Enter the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. See categories below. The early entry deadline is on December 9th, 2021.

From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

A Wish For Clean Water

Silver Distinction in Documentary Short

About this entry

At its core, Wishes Delivered is designed to increase positive brand sentiment for UPS during the challenges of the holiday season. The campaign features a collection of heartfelt stories that document the delivery of a life-changing wish for deserving people around the world. This year, James Leitner was one of those people.

When we first caught up with James, he was in the middle of a 3-month cross-country walk from New Jersey to San Francisco pulling ten gallons of water behind him, representing the miles African women and children walk for water each year. We wanted to deliver James something that would have a lasting impact on his cause and help amplify the good he has been doing since he was a teenager. So, we partnered with a non-profit called Well Aware and sponsored a rainwater collection system in his name at a secondary school in Kenya. Then, we sent him to Kenya with the Well Aware team to see his impact firsthand.

Our goals for the entire Wishes campaign—with four different stories—were 15M video views and 120,000 shares. Each of the four stories would be responsible for roughly 3.75M views and 30,000 shares, if we reached our campaign goals.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Our strategy this year differed from years past. We sought out stories that would connect with the conversations being had on social media. In the last few years, access to clean water has been a hot topic for people across the globe, so we wanted to tell an inspiring story of someone who was selflessly dedicating their life to the cause. That's where James came in.

In addition to traditional long-form storytelling, we focused on creating shareable, bite-sized content more suitable for newsfeed scrolling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This allowed our audience to consume James' story in many forms—30s cuts, looping gifs, still images and ATTN:-style news cuts. Not only did this extend the life of the story, but it allowed us to prioritize the best-performing content on each channel and optimize every dollar.


Ultimately, A Wish for Clean Water alone clocked 9.6M video views, 50,000 shares. Thanks to James, the 400+ students of Kaliini Secondary School in Kenya will have clean drinking water for years to come. But that's not all. In December, James pledged to donate the entirety of his GoFundMe page to Well Aware once he met his $20,000 goal. An anonymous donor was so inspired by his act of giving, that they matched every donation from mid-December to New Year's Eve to amplify his efforts further. In total, James raised nearly $21,000 that will provide 200,000 people with clean water for life. Since then, James has continued his relationship with Well Aware to learn the ins and outs of starting a successful water non-profit. He is now the proud founder of MissionCleanWater, a non-profit working to bring clean water and sanitation to the most underserved communities in the world.

Not only did A Wish for Clean Water exceed all of its media projections, but it gave an inspiring young man the platform and support he needed to make a greater impact on the world.


Video for A Wish For Clean Water

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