Why Do We Need Advertising For The Internet?

Those who don’t live with the internet have fewer job prospects. One nonprofit is stepping into the void, with low-cost broadband and old-school marketing.


Public service announcements about technology are usually aimed at issues like texting while driving, sexting, and, you know, droids who smoke cigarettes. But a new Ad Council campaign targets a largely invisible problem: the 1 million Americans without Internet access.


This is a bigger problem than you might think (especially seeing as how you’re reading this post on the Internet). Besides being a missed resource for the elderly and undereducated, the dearth of Internet access is a major detriment for the unemployed. According to a New York Times article on the campaign, over 80% of jobs posted by major companies are posted exclusively online.

How do you tell people without Internet about the Internet? With a traditional print, radio, and TV campaign. Produced by the Ad Council and Young & Rubicam for the nonprofit Connect2Compete, captures “the real emotion of learning something new”:

Advertising being distributed by the Ad Council includes a TV spot featuring Reginald, an actual truck driver from California whose instructor shows him how to use a computer, get on the Internet, and buy a plane ticket as a surprise for his wife. ‘She’s going to love me all over again now,’ he says. The spot concludes, ‘But first, he’s going to surprise himself. Get online. Find a free class near you.’

Radio ads feature actors portraying individuals who do not know how to use the Internet. One is a man named Peter, whose instructor shows him how to look for electrician jobs online. The voice-over says, ‘This is Peter. Recently he got help going on the Internet for the first time to look for a new job. In the past, Peter’s gotten work through people he knew. But he heard there were more jobs online.’

Reactions to the campaign vary. It’s hard to argue that helping people find computer classes and Internet access is a bad thing. The Times quotes one critic, suggesting that the problem isn’t that people don’t know how to get access, but that they can’t afford it or have negative feelings about it.

But solving complex problems isn’t the mission of the Ad Council–they exist to facilitate public awareness, all the way back to its famous “Loose Lips Sink Ships” campaign during World War II. Ironically, in those days the Ad Council existed to warn Americans about the dangers of information sharing. These days, our fate seems to depend on it.

Read the full story about EveryoneOn here.

[ILLUSTRATION: Pixel Icon via Shutterstock]

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.