AOL are currently running a major â??campaignâ?? around the idea of ‘debating’ the merits of the internet. The city is full of billboards and scaffolding ads asking a whole range of pretty ridiculous questions – (“Does the Internet make children lazy or smart? /discuss” – well, really I guess it could be either, depending how they use it, the same being said for books, “is the internet good or bad? /discuss” – again, pretty much depends how you use it…)
Bearing in mind the blanket approach to advertising this campaign, I can’t help but feel that their tokenistic approach to online community building has been seen through – the site has very few comments on it – the reality being that if I had a genuine interest in any of these strange questions, I’d have discussed them on community led blogs and forums five years ago, not as part of a corporate led ad campaign. Perhaps this doesn’t matter to AOL and they’re more interested in the domestic internet user, who might subscribe to their cosy version of internet-lite, thinking that they are an ‘opinion/discussion leader’ at the fore-front of the pressing issues of the internet.
The agency involved deserves some credit for pushing AOL this far, but they really need to go the whole hog to make it work. The only way I can see AOL redeeming this campaign with any degree of credibility is to indulge in some existentialist philisophical questions (see article title), or some genuine quandries – “will corporate control of internet content create a better, more obedient, consumer society? /discuss”