Drink Up, The Water Fountain Wants You Too

WPP’s Y&R and sibling digital shop VML have developed a quirky gizmo to encourage Americans to keep hydrated — a talking water fountain. 

The talking fountain was developed by the agencies (and built by YesYesNo LLC) as part of their work for the Partnership For A Healthier America’s “Drink Up” initiative. 

The so-called “Drink Up Fountain” dispenses greetings and compliments that are intended to entice the drinker to continue sipping. When a drinker’s lips touch the water, the fountain “talks,” completing a circuit and activating speakers. When the drinker pulls his or her head away, the voice stops. 

One fountain is set up in New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, where hidden cameras caught unsuspecting individuals taking sips and reacting to the chatty fountain.   

Among the quips uttered by the fountain: “Refreshing, isn’t it,” and “your feeding one trillion thirsty cells right now.” 



The talking fountain is part of a broader “Drink Up” campaign that has been seen on more than one billion products and engaged hundreds of millions of people through social media, advertising, events and celebrity ambassadors. 

“Water is often taken for granted,” said PHA CMO Drew Nannis. “The Drink Up Fountain is yet another effort to remind people that you are what you drink, and when you drink water you Drink Up.” 

Research from Nielsen Catalina Solutions shows that the first online ad campaign for Drink Up fueled a 3% lift in incremental sales of bottled water among those exposed to the campaign. That research followed a Forbes piece that showed the number of eight-ounce servings of plain water drunk per day from all sources (bottled, tap, filtered) was up 2.7% for the quarter ending March 31, 2014, compared with the fall quarter of 2013, when the campaign was launched. 

Currently there are two talking fountains that will be shuttled to various events and cities around the country. Over time the plan is to make more fountains as permanent fixtures.


3 comments about "Drink Up, The Water Fountain Wants You Too".
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  1. Isaac Pedroza from Arizona State University, September 2, 2014 at 12:51 a.m.

    With the improvements of technology and how quickly it is advancing, things like a common used device like the water fountain sometimes do need to be upgraded once in a while. The ability of having a water fountain that actually talk to people can be used for various reasons and purposes. One of the biggest things that I can see this as a game changer is for spreading around a message to the people. For example, like the fountain already says small facts maybe if we increased the amount of facts it tells people. People may be able to spread the word of different threats for example global warming, or even things that people do to waste water. These types of machines could also help out with spreading news. This type of system will be a huge game changer for companies as well. Many will be able to use this for marketing purposes. Possibly even put water fountains in areas where there wasn't one before and in order to spread the word about a company or cause.
    One thing I would add to this would be the ability to have people fill up their water bottles in order to promote recycling. That way the fountain may also remind them to bring their bottles next time to fill them up. Little things like this will help make this device evolve and become better. With this coming up it would make a difference to many areas in the world in order to promote hydration and possibly many other things that would benefit the people.

  2. Nicole Baron Dietrich from Arizona State, September 2, 2014 at 2:51 a.m.

    This is one clever ad campaign and I wish I would have thought of this. I have never heard of anything like this. I always enjoy and appreciate creative ways to involve people in advertising and this takes the cake for one of the most interesting I have seen in a while. I’m curious what the basis was for this particular ad campaign…was it strategic or just a general health promotion? Are there particular demographics that are being targeted to “drink up”?

    I liked how they placed hidden cameras to capture people’s reactions to the fountains. It really made the whole ad relatable. It actually made me thirsty too! The people’s reactions were priceless. It was also very intriguing to see how much work went into building the fountains, even just briefly in the YouTube link provided. It must have taken a lot of time, money, and some highly advanced technology to make this possible.

    I would love to try out one of these “chatty fountains” for myself. I feel like I never drink enough water, especially living in Tempe, Arizona where it is extremely hot and dry. I know these fountains would be a huge hit in Arizona. I think people forget the importance of little things like remembering to stay hydrated, and I think it was very smart to design the fountain to “compliment” its drinkers. Who doesn’t love a compliment every once in a while? If this is what the future of water fountains looks like, then I am all for it.

  3. Sanchia Saha from Daystar Media, September 2, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.

    Completely agree with Nicole and Issac, this is a great campaign to raise awareness about a critical problem - water and how accessible it is for people everywhere. With the growing (and alarming) number of how plastic water bottles negatively harm the environment, the lack of access to clean drinking water in third world countries and global warming affecting the world's supply of clean water - a talking fountain is exactly what is needed to let people know just how precious this resource is and how incredibly lucky they are to be able to access it anywhere; a privilege that many, many people do not actually have.

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