Local Government

D.C. Water Spent Nearly $4,000 On Its Wendy the Water Drop Mascot

The feds aren't the only ones capable of designing cringe-worthy mascots.


Say what you will about the various government bodies that inhabit Washington, D.C., but damn do they know how to come up with some cringe-worthy mascots.

Back in January, Reason's Eric Boehm wrote about the Green Reaper, a proposed mascot for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which was supposed to warn children about the dangers of environmental catastrophes.

The "ridiculous and terrifying" costume for the Green Reaper cost taxpayers a cool $5,000 to procure, not counting whatever staff time and resources went into creating and designing the Reaper.

As it turns out, it's not just the feds that can play this game. See, for instance, area public utility company D.C. Water's equally creepy/charming mascot Wendy the Water Drop.

Technically in existence since at least 2010, Wendy rocketed to fame in the past few weeks thanks to a DCist article showcasing the mascot's music video "…Chlorinate Me One More Time."

The subject matter of the video—a public service announcement about how D.C. Water is temporarily switching the disinfectant used in drinking water from chloramine to chlorine—is rather forgettable. The music video itself—which involve the always-smiling Wendy and two backup dancers cutting a rug to the tune of Britney Spears' 'Hit Me Baby One More Time'—stays with you.

Released in 2018, the video was rescued from obscurity by DCist's writeup. The article notes that the video had only racked up 300 or so views. It now has close to 10,000.

The video itself was paid for out of D.C. Water's general communications budget, so we'll unfortunately never know how much it cost to produce. A records request from Reason, however, revealed a 2016 receipt putting the cost of the costume at $3,695 plus another $175 charge to ship it from a manufacturer in Wisconsin.

A D.C. Water media representative told Reason that the mascot is a great way to engage customers, particularly children. Its effectiveness at reaching adults might be a different matter.

Perhaps it's unfair to dismiss the Wendy the Water Droplet's earned media. The mascot does, after all, make appearances at public events to glad-hand and pose for pictures. But when you're a government-run monopoly selling an essential product, one would think you could skimp on eye-catching mascots.

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  1. So horny right now, I might take a shower

  2. Why do public utilities feel the need to advertise/market to a captive customer base?

    1. This is exactly what I was about to say. The only reason would to maybe let people know about some new program or service, but they can just put that info in the bill. There’s no need whatsoever to make TV and radio spots. I mean, if I don’t like service from WSSC, tough shit. It’s not like I can choose a competitor.

    2. What would you have them do with their marketing budget? Give it back???

    3. They are legally required to notify people whenever they change from chlorination to chloramination or back (pretty much, adding the ammonia increases the lifespan of the chlorine en-route, allowing you to reduce the amount of chlorine you add to the system and reduce chemical wear on your pipes close to your distribution station). This is especially important for fish owners, as chloramine stays in the water much longer than chlorine, and you can’t simply let the water sit to make it safe for your tank.

    4. The one I always wondered about was… why was the US Postal Service sponsoring Lance Armstrong & Co. in the Tour de France?

  3. D.C. Water is temporarily switching the disinfectant used in drinking water from chloramine to chlorine

    Chlorine? Why, that’s….that’s a greenhouse gas! Ozone depletion! Global warming! I mean cooling! Drought! Rain! Famine! Golden Rice! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    1. Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children’s ice cream!…You know when fluoridation began?…1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard-core Commie works. I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love… Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I — I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake…but I do deny them my essence.

    2. Chlorine is bleach.
      Chloramine is bleach plus ammonia.
      They are really good at killing germs. I like not drinking amoebas.

      1. I mixed chlorinated bleach with ammonia once, it was not pleasant

  4. A D.C. Water media representative told Reason that the mascot is a great way to engage customers, particularly children.

    …who generally don’t pay water bills.

  5. Oh the singing on that video is horrible. Like drunk karaoke in an airport dive bar horrible.

  6. DC spend four grand on a clown.
    Tax dollars going down the drain.

  7. Why partisan blue? Do Republicans not have the gumption to protest this?

  8. They could collect some rental from Remy for his parody. Wouldn’t that be awesome! Those two gyrating suits in the background are right up his alley.

  9. A female thing of color that can gender identify as ice or steam. What’s the problem?

  10. “…Its effectiveness at reaching adults might be a different matter…”

    I dunno; seems pretty effect at ‘reaching adults’, just not the way the sponsors had in mind.
    Kinda like Pajama Kid.

  11. SUPERVISOR: You smart-mouthed me the other day, and while it would be too much trouble to fire you, I can still punish you…by putting you in the Wendy costume.

    EMPLOYEE: Well, it *is* hot and stuffy in that costume, but I guess I can stand it…

    SUPERVISOR: Did I mention that you’re going to do an educational exhibit where you get stored in a water-barrel.

    EMPLOYEE: You mean…

    SUPERVISOR: Wendy, it’s your turn in the barrel.

  12. Private business can have some real howlers as well. Anyone remember Dart Man? (Dart Drugs)

  13. “But when you’re a government-run monopoly selling an essential product, one would think you could skimp on eye-catching mascots”

    I would argue that they did. That video had “skimp” written all over it.

    1. That is what I thought, my utility would have wasted at least 40 grand and came up with something worse than Wendy the Water drop.

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