The Washout: Wunderman Thompson's digital film for Tata Steel

To highlight the hidden problem which will only increase with every hand wash.

MUMBAI:  Wash your hands with sanitiser or soap and running water for 20 seconds. Unless you were living under a rock, this is an advisory the entire world is now familiar with. Driven by fear of Covid2019 and thanks to the scarcity of sanitisers, we are now washing hands more than ever. Several videos that have been doing the rounds have taught us how to do it the right way. From wetting hands with water and applying enough soap right down to rinsing hands thoroughly with running water and then drying hands - we have seen it all. We have intimate knowledge of the components of a perfect hand wash - interlaced fingers, palm to palm, rubbing rotationally with clasped fingers and so on and so forth.

Among the various brands and companies that have been circulating videos on precautions in social media is Tata Steel. It has been actively combating Covid2019 since the lockdown began, issuing several advisories, including one on hand wash. Tata Steel and  Wunderman Thompson South Asia - creators of the advisories - were curious to know whether people are putting their knowledge of best hand wash practices to good use. Are they practising what they have picked up from countless hand wash videos? There was only one way to find out.

“We conducted a social experiment. We asked people to send in videos of their hand wash regimen. What we discovered was surprising and shocking at the same time! We were pleasantly surprised to see that just about everyone was familiar with the correct way to wash hands. But the relief we felt at this discovery was short-lived as we chanced upon something that was quite alarming, to say the least. We found that everyone without exception kept their taps running while washing their hands. Which meant that for every 20 sec hand wash, each of these individuals was wasting several litres of water,” said the company release.

Tata Steel has always been committed to a sustainable future. Its sustainability initiatives encompass the areas of biodiversity, renewable energy, water conservation, recycling and reduction of carbon footprint. On the occasion of Earth Week, the message of washing hands while saving water needed to be shared immediately. Who better than Tata Steel - a sustainability champion - to do the needful. And what better way to deliver the message than a film for digital media.

“But how to get this done at this time? We approached a production house who strung together the videos from our social experiment combining it with footage that they shot, inserted the supers, scored the music and mixed it. And the film was good to go when most of the entire world was shut inside. The film begins with shots of people of different genders and age groups washing their hands. We find that each individual is doing it the right way. The camera then reveals each person had the tap on right through the 20 sec of hand wash. The film ends with the words ‘Don’t let one crisis give rise to another. Don’t keep the water running while you wash your hands,” stated the company.

Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson, said: “The idea was to highlight the hidden problem which will only increase with every hand wash. If the tap remains open while we are washing our hands for 20 seconds or more, we end up wasting a lot of water. It is imperative to draw attention to this issue which can be easily overlooked because of the threat of Corona. The creative device of social experiment lends the film a certain candour and authenticity. And since Tata Steel has always stood up for sustainability for a better future, it punctuates this very important message that could otherwise be missed. While we build India’s biggest bridges we also care about the water under the bridge.”

Arjun Mukherjee, ECD & VP, Wunderman Thompson, Kolkata said, “While we are following the guidelines and washing our hands frequently, we are precipitating another global crisis - water shortage. This can lead to a huge water scarcity in the near future. This timely film drives home the message that when we wash hands we should be careful not to waste water.”

Vijay Jacob Parakkal, Senior VP & Managing Partner, Wunderman Thompson, said: “Wunderman Thompson, erstwhile JWT, has been associated with Tata Steel for several decades. We had created the iconic ‘We Also Make Steel’ campaign for Tata Steel and, more recently, the ‘We Also Make Tomorrow’ campaign. We are delighted to partner Tata Steel again on this extremely relevant film with an urgent message.”


Client: Tata Steel

Agency: Wunderman Thompson

Project Head:

Vijay Jacob Parakkal, Sr. VP & Managing Partner

Creative Team:

Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer

Arjun Mukherjee, ECD & VP

Nuzhath Enayath, Copywriter

Account Management:

Nilanjan Sarkar, Client Services Director

Production house: Little Lamb Films

Executive Producer: Monalisa Mukherji

Producer: Avishek Ghosh

Director & Editor: Nobin Dutta

Music: Mayukh-Mainak

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