Viral ad campaign hits #FirstWorldProblems

Do you hate it when your mint gum makes your ice water taste too cold? Or your phone charger won't reach your bed?

A group fighting for access to clean water in developing nations has created a fundraising video that takes such first world gripes and casts them in the stark light of poverty.

In the 60-second video, the group WATERisLife has impoverished residents in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, recite tweets from the popular hashtag #FirstWorldProblems .

The hashtag, a perpetual presence on Twitter, pokes fun at people who have more than the basics of life covered, and yet grumble when, say, their neighbor blocks off his wi-fi access.

In the video, "First World Problems Anthem," a man outside a dilapidated tin-roof house says "I hate it when my house is so big, I need two wireless routers."

A young girl near a stream where women are washing clothes adds: "When I leave my clothes in the washer so long they start to smell."

Another scene shows a boy sitting on the concrete steps of an unfinished cinder block house. His "gripe"? "When I have to write my maid a check, but I forget her last name.

"#FirstWorldProblems Are Not Problems," the text at the end of the video reads. "Donate to help bring clean water to those in need."

The lack of safe drinking water is the world's single largest cause of illness, according to UNICEF.

And WATERisLIFE says that waterborne disease around the world this year will kill 6,500 people a day.

"We're not setting out to humiliate people who have used the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag," said Matt Eastwood, the chief creative officer of the ad agency DDB New York, which created the video. "Rather, the project encourages people to think before they tweet. There are much more important problems in the world than not getting a hot-enough latte in the morning."

The video has racked up more than 1.7 million hits in less than month. And the campaign may be having the desired impact.

"I used to think that first world problems were hilarious, but now I just feel bad." says a comment posted under the video on YouTube.

Another person laments: "Okay (it's) true i am a self centered stubborn brat. I have no idea how good i have it."

Ultimately, the clean water group is trying to benefit from a Twitter-inspired guilt trip.

"People are becoming desensitized to suffering and we needed to enter the social space with a provocative approach to get those who are lucky enough to have simple things such as water, food, and shelter to reflect on their 140 characters and support causes like WATERisLIFE," said Kristine Bender, the executive director of the nonprofit.


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