Water.org and Stella Artois team up with Matt Damon for TV advert

Matt Damon's quest to turn lager into water

Exclusive: Maggie Pagano talks to actor Matt Damon and Gary White, co-founders of water.org about its new campaign to raise awareness about the global water crisis…

Friday 02 February 2018 21:01

Matt Damon wants us to drink more beer – and the one that really does refresh the parts that others don’t reach.

The Bourne Identity actor is calling on us to drink more Stella Artois because in return for every pint, bottle or can that we consume, the beer maker will provide one month’s supply of clean water to those in the developing world.

Damon’s call to arms is part of a new global campaign launched today to raise awareness of how up to 700 million people in the developing world are living without clean water or sanitation.

The actor, who together with Gary White co-founded water.org, said last night on the phone from Los Angeles: “In the West water is so ubiquitous that people can’t really relate to the global crisis.”

“Yet there are 700 million people who do not have access to clean water. It’s hard to understand the scale of the problem and our campaign with Stella Artois is to raise awareness amongst everybody.”

As part of the new campaign, Damon and White have created a new video - Wait For Water - which can be found at YouTube.com/StellaArtois. It is aimed at showing people how dependent we are on water in the West.

The video was filmed secretly at hotels and restaurants in the UK, the US and in Uruguay and follows customers being turned down when they ask for for a glass of water or a bath, and being told they have to wait six hours before supplies are back to normal.

As the video shows, the shock on people’s faces is extraordinary, and vividly demonstrates how utterly reliant we are on a constant water supply without thinking about its source.

Damon added: “In the West we solved the water problem a hundred years ago. But can you imagine a world where we have solved cancer or Aids, but we still have not helped those in the world who do not have clean supplies?”

He said Stella Artois came up with the inspiring video idea as a provocative way of shocking them into realising the scale of the problem.

“Having businesses like Stella Artois behind us helps us with the marketing of our message. It’s an issue that millennials care about deeply and we know that if they knew that every dollar consumed on beer, was helping others in the world, that would matter to them.”

White, who co-founded the global NGO with Damon, added that the latest water shortages in Cape Town showed the depth of the crisis and how it needed to be tackled on a local level.

”This is a global but local problem. The way we work is to raise funds so that we can help on a local level with micro-financing which helps individuals help themselves to better water supplies”, he said.

Damon explained that the inspiration behind his involvement in water.org followed a visit he made to Zambia in 2006 after meeting a teenage girl while she was walking to a local well to find water.

“She was telling me her dreams, that she wanted to go to Lusaka to become a nurse when she was older. It really struck home to me that if she had not had that well to provide water, then she would not have been able to have her dreams of becoming a nurse.”

That was the moment he decided to become more heavily engaged and set up water.org with White.

“Talking to her reminded me of when Ben Affleck and I used to dream about going to the big city of New York and become actors. She had her dreams too and could not have done so if she had not had access to water. That was my epiphany”, he added.

Since Stella Artois has been involved with Damon and White, the partnership has provided more than a million people in the developing world with access to five years of clean water.

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