20 Sep 2017
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National Geographic, Farhan Akhtar team up for water conservation initiative

MUMBAI: Over the years ‘Mission’ has been one of infotainment broadcaster National Geographic’s key local properties. In the past, it has looked at topics from Everest to photography. Now it is looking at water conservation with the initiative ‘Mission Blue’.

This is a part of its endeavour to go ‘Further’ as a brand and inspire change.

‘National Geographic Mission Blue’ is an initiative to address the cause of water scarcity. It aims to spread awareness and empower people with knowledge on what they can do to help impact the lives of the millions who are deprived of this precious resource. It underlines the need for collective action to ensure a better tomorrow. Through specially created digital tools, people will get a sense of not just how severe the water problem is, but also how small changes in their daily lives can help reduce their ‘water footprint’.

‘National Geographic Mission Blue’ was announced in Mumbai to mark the occasion of Earth Day, in line with the brand’s objective to lead with purpose and help sustain the planet. Present at the event was director Farhan Akhtar, key partner and face of the campaign, as well as Bollywood directors and Water Aid Foundation, all part of this initiative.

Apart from the main film creative and campaign, National Geographic will also disseminate the message through various formats of storytelling to reach and appeal to as many people as possible. This includes special documentaries on the water issue, as well as specially created short films by directors Imtiaz Ali, Hansal Mehta, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Madhur Bhandarkar, who creatively bring out the key message through everyday stories of India.

Water Aid Foundation, a non-profit known for its exemplary contribution to the cause of water, has also partnered National Geographic Mission Blue, where they will together help provide clean drinking water to schools.

Swati Mohan, Business Head, FOX International Channels (India)National Geographic, Fox Networks Group business head for India Swati Mohan said, “National Geographic has always been a brand that has stood for driving purposeful change, something we have been doing for over a century now. Today, the water crisis around the world calls for much attention. In India alone, 76 million people lack access to safe water—a problem that is only going to get worse if no immediate action is taken. We are hopeful that this initiative will help enlighten people on what can be achieved by collective action.”

She noted that is a part of National Geographic’s brand promise last year of going ‘Further’. In terms of the partnership with Akhtar, she noted that he embodies National Geographic’s brand values through the films that he makes and the causes that he supports. He fitted with the channel’s brand ethos.

Commenting on his association with the initiative, Akhtar said, “I am proud to be associated with an iconic brand that has the legacy of working for the cause of preserving the planet. ‘National Geographic Mission Blue’ is a very special initiative that is very close to my heart. It has the power to enlighten, inspire and empower people who are unaware of what they can do towards the cause of water scarcity and drive real change. I hope people will realise that the responsibility of conserving water and of their own future is essentially in their own hands.”

He noted that when he was growing up brands like National Geographic were not present to help educate. However, over the past 20 years, things have been changing. For instance, people today are urged not to use water to celebrate Holi. Referring to the UN, he said that in 2025 two-thirds of the population might not have access to clean water. Water scarcity in the future would lead to mass migration and diseases spreading, he noted.

Ali noted that he has a personal connect with water due to the work of his father. His father has for many years been involved in irrigation projects in rural areas. “I grew up realising how important water is. I have a connection between the cities and villages as far as water is concerned.”

He noted that through National Geographic he can reach out and tell people what his father is trying to say.