Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The World [Water] Cup comes to Pakistan!


Last month, seemingly all of Pakistan (and apparently much of the world) was enthralled by the Cricket World Cup. As a football fan still recovering from the madness (and heartache) of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I also found myself captivated by this newly found sport, as Pakistan excitedly anticipated our debut match (against Kenya).
                                                 
As the coin toss drew near, I began to reflect on my experiences living in Kenya and the time I spent preparing for Africa’s first World Cup. I vividly remembered the football tournament that we hosted in the Mathare slum, which we designed to raise awareness for World Water Day and the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation. Appropriately titled the World [Water] Cup, this tournament was a huge success, and we wondered how we could scale it up.

The advent of the Cricket World Cup – coincided with the 19th annual World Water Day and my placement at a water company in Pakistan – provided the perfect opportunity. So with the support of the management team at Pharmagen, we set out to introduce the World [Water] Cup to Lahore.

Given that Pharmagen has launched 13 new water shops over the past several months, this also seemed like the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for these shops. Rather than host a tournament, therefore, we decided to screen the Pakistan matches at our shops, an activity that seemed to fit perfectly with our new community-based, guerilla marketing strategy. 

Although we considered canceling the event because of security concerns – given the situation with the American CIA agent who very publicly killed two Pakistanis – we decided that it was safe to move forward, and the event turned out to be a huge success. As Pakistan swept over the West Indies during their quarterfinal match, over 400 hundred fans stopped to watch on our road side projector, enjoy Pharmagen water with us, and receive flyers and coupons promoting clean drinking water.

We then went on to screen the match at three other new shops during the nail biting Pakistan versus India semifinal, a match that sadly (but rather dramatically) ended the tournament for our team. Fortunately, however, the celebration for Pharmagen and our communities has continued on, as we have seen a 10-20% increase in customer usage in the shops were we hosted the World [Water] Cup. 

Check out the video below for a quick glimpse into some of the action!