The Marathon Walker

Ogilvy Public Relations Paris


Access to water is a major challenge in Africa where many communities still live without access to clean water. Water for Africa was calling for donations to fund the installation of boreholes via the UK-based charity’s Facebook page and website. The challenge was to raise awareness of the issue. The solution capitalised on strong storytelling. In Africa, a woman will walk on averaged 6km daily to collect water – a marathon distance. A campaign was timed to capitalize on the Paris marathon, one of the world’s biggest, where 50,000 runners and 80,000 visitors would gather from around the world. A teaser campaign with key stats about the problem was launched on World Water Day. Media briefings were staged over the days that followed. Then with a bucket full of water on her head, a 43 year-old Gambian woman, Siabatou Sanneh, walked part of the Paris marathon to promote the campaign. The initiative was a success generating significant earned media and social sharing worldwide raising enough to finance at least four new boreholes.

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