Even moose want the Feds to get First Nations better F’ing water

Who: Public Inc. for concept, script, editing and social, Station Film for production (directed by Brendan Gibbons) and sound mixing by John Ryan.

What: “It’s effing water,” an expletive-laden call for the Federal Government to finally do something about the fresh water crisis in many of the country’s Indigenous communities.

When & Where: The video went live on YouTube on Monday, and is being pushed out through social channels and PR. “The campaign is considered ‘political,’ so we are limited from a paid social perspective,” said Public founder and CEO Phillip Haid.

Why: A year ago, Public, the Toronto-based social impact agency, captured how many of us were feeling at the end of a difficult year with a short video that delivered a literal “fuck you” to 2020.

The video showed people speaking directly to Canada to express their anger after a difficult year, delivering F-yous to Covid, and the killers of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as more humorous middle fingers to Zoom calls, murder hornets and all those people who hoarded toilet paper.

But it wasn’t just profanity as catharsis, either. The video asked for donations to Mental Health Coalition (U.S.) and Black Health Alliance (Canada).

Now Public is back with a new F’ng video for 2021, this time specifically focused on the water crisis.

How: The new video retains much of the same structure and tone, with actors speaking directly to the camera to explain that Canada has more than enough water. “So why can’t we fucking get safe water to First Nations communities,” says one.

Combining hard facts and data with humour, including a cursing moose, the rest of the video explains how simple it should be, and how Prime Minister Trudeau has not kept his commitment to fix the problem. It ends with a call to sign a petition at EffingWater.ca. The copy on the site explains that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission called for the Federal Government to do something about the water crisis, but it has done “f*ck all” since then.

“Almost 70 Indigenous communities still have to boil their water before they can use it,” the copy reads. “The water our country pipes to them often contains pollutants like mercury, arsenic and even uranium. This is unacceptable, inhumane, and racist. And it needs to be reconciled.”

The video includes two non-actors (neither of whom use F-word): Canadian figure skating great Kurt Browning, and Guy Freedman, chair of the First Peoples Group, who gave a talk to the agency on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that inspired the video.

“We felt with last year’s success there was an opportunity to carry forward the F-bombs as a means of calling out issues we think need attention and action,” said Haid when asked about employing the same shock-and-awe approach as last year. “It’s not the only way to show disdain, but it is effective and telegraphs that the current situation is not okay.

“So we figured, why not build on last year’s campaign to generate discussion and action on the unacceptable reality of what many Indigenous communities face—a lack of clean water.”

How many F-bombs: While the concept is similar, Public actually toned down the F-bombs this time. Last year’s spot had 29, compared to 12 this year. Granted this year’s video is about 20 seconds shorter, but even on a “fucks” per second basis, the difference is significant: 1 fuck per 3.1 seconds in 2020, compared to 1 fuck per 5.9 seconds this year.

David Brown