Saturday, July 21, 2007

My museum of content related artefacts (7)

1995: Euronet poster

My museum does not hold only devices. I have also a large poster in the collection. And it has a historic value. It marks the start of mass marketing internet in the Netherlands.

The poster contains the embodiment of the “at” symbol, which has been characteristic for e-mail addresses, ever since Ray Tomlinson in 1971 started to use it to indicate that the message had to be forwarded to another computer. But the symbol is often perceived as denoting internet, computerization, or modernization in general. In Dutch the at symbol is also indicated as monkey tail; do not ask me why. But I noted from the Wikipedia that the at symbol has different meanings in different countries. In Catalan it means roll brioche; in Czech it means roll mops; in Danish elephant’s trunk; in Greek little duck; in Hebrew strudel; in Hungarian worm, mite, or maggot; in Italian and Welsh it is known as a snail; in Russian dog. Undoubtedly some Ph.D. student cultural science has written a thesis on the cultural implications of the name. The poster was produced in May 1995 as part of a big marketing campaign for the Dutch ISP Euronet*Internet. Internet for consumers had been introduced in the Netherlands since January 1994 with the Digital City project (De Digitale Stad). The project generated a lot of interest and yielded new ISPs. So far the ISPs had been spin-offs of the academic network and had directed their attention to companies. But this started to change in 1994. It was in that year that Euronet*Internet was founded by Arko van Brakel and Simon Cavendish and sold the company to Wanadoo/Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom in 1998.

From the start, the service made quite some impression. Marketing internet to consumers as a mass market commodity had not been done before. And the problem was also how you make clear what you have to offer. Internet was known to a small group of people; I guess some 400.000 people in the Netherlands in 1994. For the Netherlands this meant that there were still millions of people to be interested. How did you get them involved and how would you establish a relationship with them as subscribers. In May 1995 a marketing campaign was rolled out. People in Amsterdam woke up with the monkey poster on display in every bus stop. For those using internet, it solicited a smile; for those who were not familiar with Internet, it stimulated their curiosity. Many people did call the telephone number mentioned. Their names and addresses were noted and they received a boxed mailing package (see photograph), containing a booklet and a CD-ROM with the start-up software.

The marketing campaign was in fact a text book example for the internet marketing of later ISP services like Planet Internet and World Online. Planet Internet started later that year and World Online copied the marketing campaign two years later.

Blog Posting Number: 819


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