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Magic Revealed! How Mayo Draftfcb and UTEC Created Water From Air

By Alejandro Aponte, creative director, Mayo Draftfcb
When our client, the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC), told us that that they wanted a billboard promoting the start of the 2013 admissions season at the university, we never thought that a seemingly standard marketing request would flourish into an idea that would bring so much help and value to a community.
My co-creative director, Juan Donalisio, and I started brainstorming with our creative team on the best way to attract students to the school. Eventually, we asked ourselves, what better way to advertise the school than to showcase what the university can accomplish? In the process of determining what that accomplishment would be, we ended up being a part of an incredible social project – the creation of a reverse osmosis water generating system that alleviated the problem of the lack of fresh water in the community.
We knew we wanted to showcase UTEC’s technological prowess on the billboard and we did it by identifying that in Lima, where the billboard would be positioned, residents faced a freshwater shortage. However, Lima and its surroundings is accidentally lucky to have an atypical phenomenon. In spite of being the world’s second capital city established in a desert where it never rains, atmospheric humidity is at 98%. So after some research and by working with a group of interdisciplinary professionals, we concluded that it was possible to generate drinking water from the humidity present in the area.
When we presented the idea to UTEC the university didn’t hesitate in making the idea possible. What worried us most was whether the technology could go from theory to application, but with the collaboration of the right people – UTEC and Mayo Draftfcb saw the vision made into a reality.

The billboard has five generators situated inside of it which uses a unique reverse osmosis system to capture air humidity and turn it into drinking water. It is able to store up to 100 liters per day. In three months the billboard has produced 9,000 liters providing fresh water to approximately 20 families daily. Initial statistics indicate that the billboard started out serving a few hundred people, but now we know that the system is providing water for more than 800 people in the surrounding area.

If this idea grows it could help to resolve the drinking water problem in many communities around the world. The great thing about this system is that it only requires atmospheric humidity to be at least 50%, which is the case in many geographical areas in Peru.
The billboard was strategically located on the Pan Americana Highway on the way to the beach during the summer season from December 2012 to February 2013. We want to especially thank Humberto Polar, chief creative officer, Mayo Draftfcb, for challenging us to find innovative and socially worthy ways of doing our work. We hope this inspires us and others to produce more out of the box thinking in the world of advertising!