Dentsu Impact and Roca build fake toilets to highlight sanitation crisis in India

Creative agency Dentsu Impact collaborated with We Are Water Foundation, the CSR wing of Spanish sanitaryware brand Roca for a ‘social experiment’ called #CloseOpenDefecation.

The agency created a fake public toilet in Gurugram, near the Indian national capital Delhi to highlight the lack of adequate public sanitation facilities across the country.

People who entered the makeshift public loo were confronted with a railway track — used by rural populations across India as an open air toilet. Also present were children and women holding placards that delivered grim facts about the effects of poor public sanitation.

Pledge to #CloseOpenDefecation | World Toilet Day

We have been oblivious towards the plight of 250 million lives in India who defecate in the open, every day. People who become victims of the evils of the society and sufferers of fatal diseases. Hence, on this #WorldToiletDay, we took charge to urge people to stand up for what’s right. We ran a social experiment to appeal to their conscience and here’s what happened on 19th November 2018. Watch the film to know.Lend a helping hand to save someone the plight of defecating in the open. Sign up here – and vow to #CloseOpenDefecation. Each sign up leads to more toilets. It’s time to do your bit.

Posted by We Are Water Foundation India on Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The campaign canvassed for people to pledge to #CloseOpenDefecation. Each sign resulted in the foundation contributing to the construction of toilets. The agency said it had received 500 registrations so far and that the We Are Water Foundation will be contributing approximately $21,000 towards the construction of toilets. The event was preceded by films highlighting the issue on social media.

Dentsu Impact and Roca’s campaign forms part of a larger trend of brands piggybacking on the current government’s nationwide sanitation drive to end open defecation. Tying back to government initiatives has been a dominant theme in recent advertising from brands like Dettol from Reckitt Benckiser and Lifebuoy from Unilever.

The sanitation economy in India alone was estimated to be worth $62 million by 2021 according to a report from the Toilet Board Coalition, a business-led partnership that aims to address the global sanitation crisis and which counts Unilever, Kimberley Clark, The World Bank and Unicef among its members.  

Speaking about #CloseOpenDefecation, Dentsu Impact’s chief creative officer Soumitra Karnik said: “As advertisers we must create communication which can assist the society we live in, in bringing about a positive change. As communication experts we can and should create content that delivers solutions that can impact a change in our society.”

Roca India’s marketing head and management trustee at the We are Water Foundation Mayuri Saikia said: “When the idea was presented to us, we saw immense potential in it.

“So far, we have received a heartwarming response for the campaign as more and more are joining the cause with the foundation. As corporates and individuals, we need to realise that beyond government initiatives, we have so much power to drive the desired behavioral change towards usage of toilets and work towards the common goal to #CloseOpenDefecation.”


Client: Roca bathroom products

Chief creative officer: Soumitra Karnik

Senior creative director: Ankur Garg

Creative director: Debanjan Basak                         

Creative team: Mayank Patel, Nikhita Biswas, Deepali Upadhyay, Suruchi Sirpaul                                       

Account management: Navin Singh, Nawal Minj, Mahima Khandelwal

Digital: Leepakshi Nagrath

Planning: Krittika Chakarborty, Saurabh Kamalakaran

Production house: Shades and Motion Pictures


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