In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, was facing a historic water crisis. Years of unprecedented drought had left the availability of water at record lows. This affected much of South Africa, but Cape Town was hit the hardest. The government warned residents that they were on pace for Day Zero, the day when Cape Town municipal water would run dry. With catastrophe looming over them, the Department of Water and Sanitation released a mascot to lead the charge in their efforts to combat the crisis. His name was Splash.

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And oh dear, he was terrifying. Splash’s eyes, which were probably intended to look inviting and friendly, have a sinister quality to them. He knows that you have been overusing water, and he is NOT happy about it. His buck teeth are close to being cute, but something about that tongue just throws off the entire mouth. Splash is also a superhero, apparently, which means he’s decked out in a cheap-looking bright green bodysuit, a cape, and a nice pair of orange booty shorts.

Sadly for Splash, the people of the internet were quick to mock their watery savior. 

Jokes about the mascot weren’t hard to come up with. All you had to do was zoom in on his haunting face, and boom. Comedy gold. Whether this was the intention or not, though, this viral mascot was able to spread his message quite well through his infamy. His booty shorts carried the message #SaveWater, which was the major hashtag promoted to help fight the water crisis. Splash was typically seen at events adorned with the hashtag. Even if people were sharing his image in jest, the message still got across. 

This horror movie monster of a mascot was just part of the push to promote water conservation in Cape Town. Members of the famous Springboks rugby team, the South African national team, were involved in campaigns to promote #SaveWater. Some of them even had the honor of being photographed with Splash himself. 

Cape Town residents were encouraged to take two-minute showers to save water, and prominent South African artists wrote two-minute songs to listen to during these. Avoiding Day Zero was an all-hands-on-deck effort, and Splash was their captain.

Alas, Splash had another rival to deal with beyond Day Zero. There was a second mascot. Yes, strangely enough, Cape Town already had a water conservation mascot named Manzi

Manzi had already been around for years before the 2018 water crisis, and he was a bit more professional and less intimidating than Splash. His tongue still felt off, though. That was something the water mascot designers just couldn’t seem to get right.

In the end, Splash’s efforts (as well as the efforts of everyone in Cape Town) were successful. Through successful water conservation as well as some much-needed rain, Day Zero never came to be. Splash may have been...scary, and his time in the spotlight was filled with mockery, but let us all take a moment to appreciate him for the awareness he probably brought to the water issue.

And if he ever wants to make a comeback, he would make a great sidekick to Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Top Image: South African Department of Water and Sanitation

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