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Alice Thomas, VML, writer
Harsh Kapadia, VML, associate creative director
Bruce Jacobson/Alan Vladusic, Y&R New York, creative directors
Suzana Apelbaum, VML, group creative director
Mike Wente, VML, executive creative director
Jim Elliott, Y&R New York, chief creative officer
Debbi Vandeven, VML, worldwide creative director
Guilherme Pena Costa, VML, creative technologist
Letitia Jacobs/Jenny Lee/Amanda McCroskery/Craig Sklaver, Y&R New York, producers
Caleb Lubarsky/Arantza Urruchua, Y&R New York, project managers
Marcele Godoy/Molmol Kuo/Zach Lieberman, YesYesNo, scientific consultants
YesYesNo, production company
VML/Y&R New York/YesYesNo, project design and development
VML/Y&R New York, ad agencies
Drew Nannis/Partnership for a Healthier America/Holly Sitzmann, Partnership for a Healthier America, clients

“This is the beginning of an age when everyday products have their own voice, and a voice with purpose warrants a good listen.” —juror Megan Meeker

“Simple but powerful idea that used technology that anyone could experience to show the benefits of drinking water in a memorable way.” —Mark Renshaw

Overview: “Greetings, water drinker,” said the Drink Up Fountain. Disguised to look like an ordinary drinking fountain in New York City, this smart fountain was anything but. Using a combination of custom technology, water and the presence of the user’s physical body, the Drink Up Fountain encouraged users to quench their thirst—by speaking to them. The more water someone drank, the more the fountain entertained the visitor. And when the drinker was fully refreshed, the fountain piped up again: “I can recommend several excellent public restrooms.”

•The project took three and a half months to produce.
•The fountain was a partnership between VML, Y&R New York and YesYesNo.
•The fountain made headlines, such as the Washington Free Beacon’s “Michelle Obama Praises Creepy Talking Water Fountain.”

Comments by Harsh Kapadia:
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The biggest challenges were to predict drinking behavior and to ensure that the fountain spoke and was cut off in a way that made logical sense and was timed to the action of drinking water. Multiple pieces of content were mixed and matched in multiple combinations to create a large enough variation of content that the fountain did not repeat itself.”

Are there any other technical features you’d like to call attention to? “Custom software was developed to trigger various pieces of content and to enable the fountain to understand if the person at the fountain was still the same user or someone different. Every time the person stopped drinking, the content stopped. The software was designed to recognize if it should continue or start anew with a greeting depending on the time between the interactions.”

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly hard one to reach? “What was difficult about talking to this audience was that even as some countries fight to get access to clean water, we are trying to encourage people to drink more water. This may sound trivial at first, but you soon realize that not drinking enough water leads to several health issues—including obesity and diabetes—even in a developed nation.”


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