Ethiopians Pose for First (and Maybe Last) Family Portraits in Beautiful Clean Water Ads

Deutsch's gorgeous campaign for Water Is Life

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Every 20 seconds, a family in Sub-Saharan Africa loses a loved one to unsafe drinking water. Deutsch took that brutal fact and made a gorgeous, bittersweet campaign for the Water Is Life charity—getting Ethiopians to pose for their first family portraits, which could also be their last.

Award-winning photographer Neil DaCosta took the photos. The print ads, each with a call to action, will run in Bloomberg, The Economist and Forbes, among other magazines.

"Most people go into these rural areas of Ethiopia, snap a picture of the tribes and then leave," said Water Is Life president Kristine Bender. "This is the first time anyone has physically printed, framed and given them a family portrait. You could see the gratitude on their faces. Knowing we are making a difference by capturing an important moment in their life, the project's goal isn't just to give family portraits, it's to keep these families alive."

More images and credits below.

The portraits—click to enlarge:

The print ads—click to enlarge:


Client: Water Is Life

President: Kristine Bender


Agency: Deutsch New York

Chief Creative Officer: Kerry Keenan

Executive Creative Director: Menno Kluin

Creative Directors: Sam Shepherd, Frank Cartagena, Julia Neumann

Art Director: Brittany Rivera

Copywriter: Kevin Meagher

Photographer: Neil DaCosta

Design Director: Juan Carlos Pagan

Designer: Brian Gartside

Retoucher: James Cullinane

Director of Integrated Media: Karen Benson

Director of Integrated Production: Joe Calabrese

Director of Digital Production: Suzanne Molinaro

Asst. Digital Producer: Libby Carespodi

Print Producer: Donald Odell

Producer: Joe Pernice

Post Producer: Francess Tom-­‐Sahr

Senior Editor: Eric Grush

Editor: Pete Slife, Marcus Land

Digital Designer: Alex Miller

Developer: Shane Akins

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.