The journey to creating WAT-AAH! started humbly six years ago. It was a typical evening at home making dinner for my two boys when I asked them, why they wouldn't have water with their meal. With a look I’m sure you’ve all seen on a child’s face when the topic of health is discussed, they said to me:
“Water? Are you serious? It's so boring!”
“But it's good for you!” I said.
“Everyone knows that, but it’s still boring,” they answered.
It’s at that point I had the idea…what if water wasn’t boring? What of instead of lecturing kids about what’s good for them, we make water “cool?” What if we use the same marketing strategies for every drink they slurp down so passionately and applied that to water?
And so it started. When talking to my boys about what this cool water brand would look like they emphatically told me: “No more mountains, no more springs.” And when they started imagining colors I said, “Blue is the standard in this business because it conveys peace and tranquility.” They responded saying, “It’s boring and expected.” Instead they suggested neon pink, bright orange, energizing green. When we talked about a logo they were quick to suggest: “What about a kid, with a big mouth, screaming his lungs out and telling us to drink water?” So under their direction, WAT-AAH! was born, deliberately ignoring the codes and standards of the water business, and with an aim of tackling the childhood health crisis we are living through today. Kids and young teens are suffering from a lack of proper hydration, which is leading them down a path full of unhealthy consequences. According to a study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only 15 to 60 percent of boys and 10 to 54 percent of girls, depending on age, drink the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Even mild dehydration can affect physiological function, cause fatigue, muscle weakness and even headaches.
That’s why we are looking for new strategies to address the problem, like with WAT-AAH!’s Taking Back the Streets; a first of its kind initiative that connects art with children’s health to get kids thinking about water in a creative and innovative way. Our goal with this project is to talk directly with kids in the cultural language and energy of the streets, involving artists such as Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey to excite kids to drink up more often. This initiative is also honoring and saluting our involvement with Partnership for a Healthier America’s initiative Drink Up, geared towards getting Americans to drink more water, more often.
We kicked off WAT-AAH!’s Taking Back the Streets at NYC’s New Museum on February 20, 2014 with a special appearance from Partnership for a Healthier America and Drink Up’s Honorary Chair and First Lady Michelle Obama. I was proud to have her in attendance because of the shared vision that we both have for not just a healthier America, but one that is committed and inspired to deliver a simple message that water is not just good for you but that it is awesome, uplifting, energizing and yes, super cool! The exhibit featured original pieces of artwork inspired by the Drink Up logo, which were translated onto labels for a series of specially designed WAT-AAH! bottles. We also saluted the work the First Lady has done by having a special group of students collaborate with one of the artists to create and present to her a Drink Up mural in her honor.
I hope you’ll join me in WAT-AAH!’s Taking Back the Streets! Help me to continue to inspire kids to use their imagination and creativity to take back their health.