• Language
    • GERMAN
    • FRENCH

Get your own Little Black Book.

Build your own personal news stream. Discover the latest work created that interests you, share your favourite stories and follow your favourite people and companies

Already have an account?


WaterAid's Touching Animation Tells an Out of This World Tale of Hope

Nexus Studios' Neeraja Raj directed the campaign telling the story of Fara who dreams to be an astronaut

WaterAid's Touching Animation Tells an Out of This World Tale of Hope

Today WaterAid brings a new angle to the global conversations around Mars with a thought-provoking animated film looking at the search to find water here on Earth. The release of ‘The Girl Who Built A Rocket’ coincides with three Mars missions going into orbit, and is the launch film for an ongoing campaign, by creative agency Don’t Panic, that looks to explore new ways to engage the public in the global water crisis. To increase consideration for the charity, the advert does not have a donation ask but instead directs viewers to the WaterAid website and other online assets, to find out more about the importance of the charity’s work. The animated short film was produced by Nexus Studios and directed by BAFTA shortlisted rising star, Neeraja Raj, with sound design by String and Tins, and distributed by WaterAid’s media agency The Kite Factory. The film also features a specially composed soundtrack of David Bowie’s iconic Life on Mars - which is 50-years-old this year – and includes a voiceover by award-winning journalist and newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald.

The touching film tells the story of Fara, a little girl from Madagascar, who dreams of being an astronaut. She attempts to fly from her home on the ‘Great Red Island’ to the ‘Red Planet’ in a homemade rocket in order to collect water for her family, after hearing a news report saying water has been found there. 

Sir Trevor McDonald said: “I have reported on some extraordinary feats of human endeavour over my long career as a journalist and newsreader; and yet something as apparently simple as ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water, still evades us. I was astounded when I learned that a staggering 785 million people worldwide do not have clean water close to home. It’s something we all take for granted in this country – and is even more important in the middle of a pandemic. So, I am honoured to add my voice to this charming animation and support WaterAid in its mission to make clean water, sanitation and good hygiene a part of normal life, wherever you are.”  

Neeraja Raj, director said: “This is a heartfelt tale based on real-life humans and their very real struggles. We approached it with honesty and humility and chose to tell it through the visual language of traditional 2D animation to achieve an emotional vibrancy that is unique to the medium”.

To ensure the authenticity in the portrayal of Madagascar, WaterAid worked closely with one of its Voices from the Field Communications Specialists, Ernest Randriarimalala. Ernest was an integral member of the ad development team and advised on all aspects of the film, from Madagascar’s landscape to details of the characters’ appearances. The animation also provided the opportunity to create innovative storytelling at a time when travel has been restricted due to the pandemic.

Ernest Randriarimalala said: “It was amazing to work on this new WaterAid film concept. The characters in the animation are inspired by people I’ve met through my work and I advised on the uniqueness of Madagascar’s landscape and homes. We hope the storytelling captures the imagination of the public.”

One in ten people globally have no clean water close to home; in Madagascar, almost half the population lacks access to this basic human right. Having clean water close to home can help reduce the spread of disease and enable people to go to school or earn a living. It also helps communities better endure natural disasters.

Johnty Gray, mass engagement director, WaterAid, said: “Fara has big dreams for her future, just like children the world over; yet for some, those ambitions may never be achieved because of the lack of basic necessities like clean water. Unusually there will be no financial ask at all as we want to encourage as many people as possible to visit our website to get the full picture of what we do and why – something we can’t do in a 90 second ad. We believe this will increase consideration for our work, leading to more sustained support.”

The film will be aired on TV through an exclusive partnership with Channel 4 with peak spots in It’s a Sin, The Great, Secret Safari, The Great Pottery Throwdown and First Dates as well as delivery across all C4 owned, C4 Partners and All4. The campaign is also supported by social media, YouTube and Teads. ‘The Girl Who Built A Rocket’ is the first time the international charity has used animation for TV. 

Featured Companies: String and Tins

Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.

BRAND: WaterAid

Mass Engagement Director: Johnty Grey

Individual Giving Manager: Victoria Laing

Head of Supporter Activation: Nick Miller

Digital Acquisition Manager: Wanji Wambari-Kairu


AGENCY: Don’t Panic

Founder: Joe Wade

Creative Partner: Rick Dodds

Strategy & Engagement Partner: Ellie Moore

Senior Account Director: Georgia Williams

Senior Project Manager & Producer: Jennifer Clare Houlihan

Account Manager: Alex Tilley

Creative: Madeline Charles

Graphic Designer: Luke Freeman



Director: Neeraja Raj

Executive Producer: Mike Bell

Producer: Jo Bierton

Production Manager: Nicole Lopez Naguil, Elspeth Vince

Production Assistant: Delfina Maria, Beatriz Honório

Project Lead: Dylan White

2D Animatic: Neeraja Raj

2D Animator: Alex Potts, Giacomo Autili, Jesper Andkjær, Christina Nerland, Lucy Hirst, Joel Stenback

Compositor: Dylan White, Bethany Levy

Designer: Hugo Beaurepere, Melanie Climent, Nikolas Franz

Matte Painting: Hugo Beaurepere

Storyboarder: Neeraja Raj, Morgan Ritchie

Editor: Dave Slade


SOUND: String & Tins

Sound Design: Culum Simpson

Foley: The Foley Barn

Music: Life on Mars - David Bowie

Music Arranged: Will Cohen

Music Orchestrated & Produced: Auburn Jam

Audio Producer: Rachel Hough/Brigitte Leicht


Music Supervisor: Dominic Bastyra at Wake The Town

Thanks to Westbury, RZO, BMG & SonyATV and the Bowie estate

Category: Charity , Corporate, Social and PSAs

Genre: Animation , Dialogue , Storytelling