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The History and The Vision

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Humanwave is the brainchild of an advertising agency made up of partners who realized they would rather use marketing to change the world than sell soap.

In 1990, this agency joined forces in a presentation to Quaker Oats Canada. They proposed an advertising campaign in which consumers would be given the opportunity to feed their own local foodbanks simply by buying Quaker Oats products. [For every four units of any Quaker Oats product purchased in a city or town, an equivalent fifth unit would be donated to the local foodbank.] The idea went through a series of meetings and eventually was stamped with a budget of $1.6 million to "roll it out."

As the campaign took shape, it became clear that this would be no ordinary marketing project:

  • First, the whole country would be educated to prefer the Quaker brand: "You're going to find a choice of breakfast cereals at your grocery store. Why not look for the Quaker man on the box and know that while you're feeding your family, you'll also be feeding a family less fortunate than yours?"
  • Second, foodbanks would benefit greatly from increased donations by Quaker Oats, which lightened the burden on foodbanks to beg for donations from the general public. In effect, food shopping was being converted to a social good.
  • Third, a warning shot was being sent to other corporations: "This is how we're increasing market share by making the world better. What is your corporation going to do?"

Tragically, the Canadian advertising budget was slashed and the campaign never ran. However, the experience of creating marketing that could be used for social change while at the same time increasing sales was an epiphany for the new advertising agency. Only a year or two before, Green Products had surfaced--touting environmental consciousness as a brand--and immediately gathered 5-10% marketshare in a highly competitive field.

What if a brand could be developed that focused on the human environment? the partners wondered. What if socially conscious consumers could ease major problems like malnutriton, illiteracy, lack of clean water, lack of basic health care and lack of women's rights simply by choosing one brand over others as they had with Green Products?

The first thing Humanwave developed was a line of T-shirts, sporting humanitarianism-is-hip slogans (like "Be Ashamed To Die Until You've Done Something Good For Humanity.") The T-shirts were a success at folk festivals and universities.

In 2001, Humanwave Records took over production of World Vision's 30 Hour Famine compilation CD from Sony Records. A 4-minute video of the CD's title track "No Hungry Children" was filmed and played on MuchMusic for several weeks.  Other original songs like "Let's Change The World" and "What REALLY Matters" made up the core of a global awareness roadshow.

Currently a book is in the works entitled "30 of the world's biggest problems and what you can do to solve them."

So far, we've funded the drilling of seventeen safe-water wells or water projects in Africa. In the months ahead, a team of dozens of volunteers are at work helping to administer a roll-out of the Humanwave brand that stretches across several industries and several causes. Humanwave profits will always be given in their entirety to frontline agencies like Lifewater, World Vision, Oxfam, Unicef, the Stephen Lewis Foundation...and your favorite charity! (Tell us about a charity we should donate to!)

When you purchase a humanwave product, you'll be changing the world. It's that simple.

"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

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