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Special Project

Special Project
From the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Lonely Whale Questions How You Hydrate

Entered in Environment & Sustainability


Lonely Whale develops creative campaigns that raise awareness of the world’s plastic pollution crisis and how dangerous it is to the health of the ocean and species (including humans!) that rely on it. Our renowned “For A Strawless Ocean” campaign will have removed a minimum of 8 billion estimated plastic straws – a common trash item found in the ocean and coastal areas – by 2020.

Like plastic straws, the world’s consumption of plastic water bottles is a growing problem: 500 billion plastic bottles are used around the globe annually, and plastic bottles are among the top five most common items found in beach cleanups around the world. 

Piggybacking off of our success from “For A Strawless Ocean”, Lonely Whale launched “Question How You Hydrate” to achieve these objectives:

  1. Empower consumers to choose and champion sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic water bottles. 

  2. Leverage this new campaign to create a movement to phase out single-use plastic water bottles.

Lonely Whale’s goal was to recruit influencers, celebrities, and everyday people to participate in its #HydrateLike social media challenge, asking them to portray how they are hydrating without single-use plastic (and therefore encourage others to do the same). We also opened a pop-up Museum of Plastic in New York City with the goal of bringing in local and regional attendees to pledge to remove plastic water bottles from their lives.

Strategy and Execution

Through Question How You Hydrate, we wanted to wake the world up to the vast problem of a global reliance on single-use plastic water bottles. Within just three months, the campaign has disrupted the plastic water bottle scene.

Lonely Whale worked with Point Break Foundation for the campaign. To make it timely and resonate with the environmental community, Question How You Hydrate was launched on World Oceans Day.

But we wanted to reach people beyond the environmental community too. Lonely Whale recruited a diverse set of influencers for the campaign’s official “Plastic Service Announcement (PSA)” including, actor and Lonely Whale Co-Founder Adrian Grenier, “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa, actor and musician Zooey Deschanel, rapper Vic Mensa, Canadian actor/singer Hayley Law and over 20 more, who pledged publicly to “#HydrateLike the future depends on it (because it does!)” and remove plastic water bottles from their lifestyles. 

The campaign is a 360-degree marketing campaign, and leverages online tactics like the #HydrateLike social media challenge driving consumers of all ages to pledge and offline activations such as the pop-up Museum of Plastic, an eye-opening experience for participants who left understanding the history of plastic, the danger it now poses, and action they can take to be more responsible consumers and stewards of the ocean. To date, we have engaged with over 60 million individuals, organizations, and brands through #HydrateLike on social media networks and welcomed 9,000 visitors to the Museum in just 5 days.

Located in SoHo, the museum told the story of the single-use plastic water bottle, engaging attendees in interactive experiences like the 90s Room (plastic water bottles from major beverage companies hit the market in the 90s). Visitors learned what we as consumers are spending on water in plastic bottles - projected to reach $200 billion by 2022 - and saw alternative uses for that money. Interactives took visitors through the experience of a plastic-polluted ocean vs. an ocean free from plastic and promoted sustainable alternatives to plastic water bottles like reusable bottles, household cups, or aluminum cans. The museum concluded with a photo booth opportunity where attendees, fresh with knowledge about the overconsumption of single-use plastic water bottles, could pledge to stop using single-use plastic waters. 

Lonely Whale was founded on the principle of radical collaboration, which means everything it does must be developed and executed with other partners. We worked with brand collaborators for the museum including ATTN:, HP, S’well, and Ever & Ever, an aluminum canned water launched at the Museum of Plastic, by the makers of leading coconut water company Vita Coco. Lonely Whale even brought in UN President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinoza, for the opening of the museum.


Consumers have spoken, and now have plastic alternatives--with more on the way. Within just three months following “Question How You Hydrate,” two beverage industry giants, PepsiCo and Coco-Cola, announced plans to test Aquafina bottles in aluminum cans and sell Dasani in aluminum bottles in 2020, respectively. Aluminum canned water Ever & Ever, a key Museum of Plastic partner, was ahead of this market trend, and Lonely Whale’s “Question How You Hydrate” campaign was crucial in the Ever & Ever team’s decision to launch the new product.

The movement is building momentum. San Francisco International Airport has also recently become the first airport to commit to ban single-use plastic water bottles, following “Question How You Hydrate.”

This year, we partnered with The Midway, a live music venue in San Francisco, to transition the use of single-use plastic water bottles to sustainable alternatives. On New Year’s Eve, The Midway officially made the switch, saving 25,000 single-use plastic water bottles and demonstrating leadership in the entertainment industry to make the switch.

In just five days, the Museum of Plastic brought in 9,000 attendees, all of whom took the pledge the refuse single-use plastic water bottles.

The “Question How You Hydrate Plastic Service Announcement (PSA)”, which became available on June 4, has had 17,365 views as of Aug. 28, 2019.

From June 4-August 21, the media reach covering the campaign equates to over 243 million impressions. The #HydrateLike social media challenge has engaged with nearly 65 million consumers, celebrities, businesses, and influencers.


Video for Lonely Whale Questions How You Hydrate

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Lonely Whale


Entry Credits