Plan International is a charity which supports children in
developing countries. The main focus of its activities is persuading
people to sponsor children. To celebrate its 60th anniversary this year
it organised Running Water Week since providing clean water is one of
the most essential elements of its development work in 40 countries.
To raise pounds 103,000 specifically to provide clean water for ten
villages in Senegal, West Africa. To raise awareness of Plan
International and encourage the sponsoring of children.
The idea of Running Water Week was decided on and a series of events was
organised to promote it. The main event was to persuade former
EastEnders actress Susan Tully, an existing sponsor, to visit a village
in Senegal and live with the people there for a week to highlight the
hardship they faced collecting water.
She suggested that fellow ex-EastEnders actress Letitia Dean should
accompany her to maximise the story potential. They visited Senegal at
the end of September, accompanied by a TV producer, a freelance
journalist and a photographer.
Running Water Week began on 13 October. Schools around the country were
encouraged to organise sponsored events around the theme of water. Many
arranged water-carrying races which provided good visuals for
Supporters of Plan International were encouraged to arrange similar
events with a water-based theme. They included ’wine-into-water party’
events and sponsored swims.
The week kicked off with a full-page story in the Daily Mail with a
picture of the actresses in Senegal. The story also featured in Hello!
Appearances on This Morning, Channel 5’s Exclusive and two cable
programmes followed, with footage of Africa supplied. Radio coverage
included Radio 4’s Midweek and Breakaway shows and Radios 2 and 5.
About half the money has been raised, but Plan is confident that when
all the sponsored events are taken into account, the target of pounds
103,000 will be reached. The coverage raised awareness of a charity
that, according to Plan’s PR manager Karen Garvin is ’not very well
known in this country ... We’re not a provider of emergency relief so we
don’t often hit the headlines’.
The choice of Tully and Dean was a good one since they are known for
having had tough on-screen lives, and the campaign aims to improve the
lot of women fetching the water.
As well as coverage in the Daily Mail and Hello! some good slots on
radio and television were achieved, but the actresses’ fame could have
been better exploited in the women’s consumer press and broadcast
It’s too early to gauge how much money will be raised, but Garvin claims
that sponsorship enquiries have increased, which is the long-term
Client: Plan International
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Running Water Week
Timescale: Aug -Oct, 1997