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‘We need to turn shit into a media darling’

Meet Mr Toilet

“We need to make the toilet a status symbol, like a Louis Vuitton handbag”

The Singaporean behind clean-water charity the World Toilet Organisation explained to an audience at the Cannes Lions today how he is attempting to “make shit sexy” and crush the “toilet taboo” to tackle poor hygiene in the developing world.

“As creative people, we need to make excrement palatable,” said Jack Sim, who was behind a movement to help the 40 per cent of the world’s population without access to clean sanitation.

“When we are children, our parents tell us not to talk about shit. This is a serious problem,” he said. “Shit is like fire. If you don’t manage it, it will kill you.”

“We need to make a toilet a status symbol, like a Louis Vuitton handbag,” he said. “We need to turn shit into a media darling.”

Sim’s global campaign to create a World Toilet Day – on 19 November – has been backed by brands such as Unilever and Domestos, and organisations such as the United Nations and Water Aid.

He said that he deliberately chose the acronym WTO in the hope that the World Trade Organisation would sue him, so the legal case “would become a big media story”.

“Our campaign reached a potential 3.3bn people – with no media spend,” he said.

His campaign is the subject of a three-minute documentary called Meet Mr Toilet, directed by Jessica Yu, the film-maker behind oscar winner Last Call at the Oasis. The film is part of General Electric’s Focus Forward branded content series.

Sim is currently working on the script for a Bollywood film with a toilet theme to spread the sanitation issue in India.

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