by MarkLives (@marklivesWe’ve emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the business impact of  Cape Town’s water crisis, and their contribution towards avoiding it. Next up are Eric D’Oliveira of FCB Cape Town and Ben Wagner of VML South Africa.

#WaterWise: CT agencies focused on changing behaviour — part 4 — King James & 99c
#WaterWise: CT agencies focused on changing behaviour — part 3 — Hero
#WaterWise: Cape Town agencies focused on changing behaviour — M&C Saatchi Abel & John Brown Media SA

While Day Zero — the day water runs out in Cape Town and residents are expected to queue for water at water collection posts — has been pushed back several times, Cape Town still faces a water crisis. This has numerous implications for agencies and the people in their employ. We asked a number of organisations how they are planning for any possible business disruptions and how they are assisting in saving water.

Eric d’Oliveira

Eric d'OliveiraEric d’Oliveira is currently managing director of FCB Cape Town, one of the agencies in the FCB South Africa network. Prior to joining FCB, he headed up 140 BBDO (recently incorporated into Net#work BBDO), an agency that had considerable success under his command, both creatively and business-wise. Before joining BBDO, Eric worked at Ogilvy Cape Town for many years.

FCB Cape Town has, like so many other businesses in Cape Town, already put plans in place to minimise water use in the agency. From mid-January:

  • The hydro-boils were turned off in the kitchen
  • The water supply to all the sinks in the kitchen was cut-off
  • The agency started using bottled water for refreshment, drinking and washing up
  • The water supply to sinks in the bathrooms was cut off, too, and hand sanitisers and wet wipes provided
  • Signs have been posted around the agency requesting staff to minimise water use, and in the bathrooms urging them to only flush when required
  • The coffee machine has been limited to operating between 8am and 10.30am, and then 2pm– 4pm. Staff have been limited to two cups from this machine a day.
  • Dishwasher use has been limited to twice a day.

From April onwards — in anticipation of Day Zero arriving in April or May [now July 2018 now not this year if water-saving patterns continue and the winter rains come] — the agency will:

  • Have portable toilets on site
  • Will continue to purchase bottled water in bulk, sourced from outside of the region
  • Possibly replace crockery and cutlery with disposable or recyclable alternatives

Discussions are already underway with:

  • The agency’s landlord regarding rainwater tank installation; and/or the possibility of sinking a borehole
  • Staff members who could potentially work from home or the Johannesburg office. These discussions are addressing financial support for internet and cellphone use, as well as insurance. In addition, we are looking at systems and processes to make this work seamlessly

Staff members have responded well to these initiatives and have been asked to come forward with any ideas they believe will improve the agency’s water savings.

Finally, we regularly distribute as much information about the drought, the issues surrounding it and potential solutions — such as the WWF Water File, as well as water-saving tips. An informed community is a well-prepared and responsible community, and this is exactly what the FCB Cape Town community is.

In terms of clients, the agency works with both Wesgro and the Western Cape Government, and is assisting on campaigns they have been and will be launching.

Western Cape Government save water by FCB Cape Town

Ben Wagner

Ben WagnerPreviously the CEO of Stonewall+ Digital Marketing, which merged to form NATIVE following the amalgamation of Cambrient, Brandsh and Stonewall+, Ben Wagner grew the agency into a formidable force in the South African marketing arena and garnered multiple accolades and awards during his stewardship of the agency. Ben is now head of VML Cape Town, part of VML South Africa, and is tasked with driving and promoting the agency into the hearts and minds of marketers, clients, potential partners and staffing talent.

VML South Africa has a long association in creating inspiring connections between consumers and social activism, including one of its earliest campaigns — Close the Tap, which was produced in 2012 for FLOW (For the Love of Water).

Day Zero has been front and centre of our operational planning since mid-2017 and, thankfully, we’ve worked collaboratively with our landlord at the Old Castle Brewery in ensuring that we’re reducing our dependence on the current municipal water supply, as well as being ready to continue business as usual if Day Zero materialises, currently anticipated on [9 July 2017].

What we’ve done to date:

  • Landlord has sunk four well points at Old Castle Brewery, and has installed JoJo tanks that hold 22 500 litres of grey water, which were at 30% full at the time of writing
  • 70% of the Old Castle Brewery’s toilets now run off grey water, with VML South Africa’s toilets being converted to grey water by the end of March 2018
  • We’ve opted to switch all taps off in all of our bathrooms, only using disinfectant.
  • We only use water-cooler water supply for drinking water
  • We’ve redesigned our lunch menus to exclude water in the cooking process and only use peelable fruit (complimentary to staff/clients)
  • All of these measures will create an 80% independency on the municipal water supply
  • We have continuous awareness and education of the crisis to all staff in our monthly staff gatherings and Slack Channels.

Should Day Zero arrive:

  • VML South Africa will continue to run, with drinking water provided for all staff and clients
  • Toilets will continue to function with newly installed grey water system. Should grey water run out, executive portaloos have been provisioned in the event we require them
  • Waterless catering will continue
  • VML South Africa already has a flexible worktime culture, so staff who require water collection will be enabled to do so without any question.

WPP as a holding company is also planning on creating a supply chain of potable water for all agencies as an active demonstration of our group horizontality, as well as creating awareness campaigns within the individual agencies within the group.

Updated at 11.03am on 14 March 2018, and 9.24am and 11.04am on 8 March 2018.


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