Access Denied on World Toilet Day

UNICEF has launched an integrated advertising campaign on World Toilet Day (November 19) with the goal of informing a new audience about the lack of access to toilets worldwide. Called “Access Denied,” the campaign urges changes in both behavior and policy on issues ranging from enhancing water management to ending open-air defecation. The campaign includes a series of posters, a dedicated website,, and a game available on desktop and mobile that dramatizes the dire situations faced by those who are forced to defecate in the open. Globally, two and a half billion people do not use improved sanitation facilities and 15 percent of the global population – equivalent to one billion people – still defecate in the open. An astonishing 1,600 children die per day of diarrhea, which is largely preventable through improved sanitation and good hygiene.

UNICEF World Toilet Day Safety Poster

To showcase the day-to-day struggle that people living without access to a safe, clean toilet experience, Tribal Worldwide’s New York office developed a series of visually unique and dramatic posters for “Access Denied” which will be translated and displayed across the world. Each poster highlights a different consequence stemming from a lack of safe, clean toilets via illustration. These risks include the indignity of open defecation, the risk of rape for women, and disease such as diarrhea that could ultimately lead to death. The messaging and visuals of the posters were also designed to serve as social media status updates and spark conversation with the hashtag #Toilets4All.

Safety: Going to the toilet shouldn’t mean the loss of innocence. Where women and girls don’t have access to safe toilets, they are often at risk of harassment and rape.
Ladder: Far too often a toilet is just out of reach. 2.5 billion people have no access to a safe, clean toilet.
Dignity: Without access to a toilet, relieving yourself comes with an audience. 15% of the world’s population has no toilet facilities at all, forcing them to defecate in the open.
Economy: Investing in safe clean toilets creates a pipeline to development. Every year, developing countries could gain up to $US260 billion by investing in safe, clean toilets and water.
Flies: Without sanitary toilets, serving dinner comes with a side of disease. The lack of safe clean toilets around the world provides breeding grounds for flies, which spread disease to everyone’s food.

UNICEF World Toilet Day Ladder Poster

UNICEF World Toilet Day Dignity Poster

UNICEF World Toilet Day Economy Poster

UNICEF World Toilet Day Safety Poster

Another element of “Access Denied” is “Toilet Trek,” a retro, 8-bit style desktop game whose graphics and animation recall video games of the 1980s. “Toilet Trek” is also available on mobile devices (iPhone 4 and 5s only; Android coming soon). Throughout the game, players try to overcome hazards that represent the health, safety and dignity concerns people face every day when trying to find a place to relieve themselves.

UNICEF Toilet Trek

Richard Guest, US President of Tribal Worldwide, commented, “Most people in the developed world don’t realize the importance of this issue and take access to a toilet for granted. UNICEF and World Toilet Day are setting out to change that. The ‘Access Denied’ campaign helps bring awareness to UNICEF’s valiant efforts to improve global sanitation, and does it in a creative way that feels new coming from UNICEF. It is also a great example of Tribal’s digitally-centric approach to creating campaigns and programs for its clients.”

On 24 July 2013, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously voted to officially designate 19 November as World Toilet Day. Access to a safe, clean toilet should be a basic right for everyone, yet 36% of the world’s population still lives without them. This has grave implications on people’s health, wellbeing, dignity, as well as on the environment, and social and economic development. The United Nations is alarmed and concerned about the slow and insufficient progress in improving access to basic sanitation facilities around the world.

World Toilet Day is a chance for advocacy aimed at policy makers and key stakeholders. It’s a chance to spread the word about the sanitation crisis and what can be done to address it. 19 November provides an occasion for serious public commitments to action to accelerate progress towards making “Sanitation for All” a reality.


The World Toilet Day campaign was developed at Tribal Worldwide, New York, by executive creative director Kinney Edwards, creative director Jen Stocksmith, creative director Katie Degentesh, art director/designer Nick Dunlap, copywriter Brent Goldman, director of user experience strategy Peter Gallo, associate technology director Rocky Romano, business director Heather Stuckey, engagement supervisor Meera Deepak, engagement coordinator Kari Halverson, head of project management and production Sunshine Yoon, head of technology Spiro Misfud, integrated producer Shannon Strange and sound designer Drew Gardner.