The web has the power to do a great deal of good. Increasingly brands are delivering real value to consumers and society more broadly so that they can be more relevant and useful to them in their daily lives.
Now I’m usually immune to the famously emotive campaigns that move most people, the likes of Dove Real Women or P&G’s Olympic Mums, but this week’s initiative from Vodafone to resurrect the dying indigenous Mexican language Ayapaneco really moved me.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the campaign it reunites the two remaining speakers of the language who had fallen out years ago. The tearful reunion between the two elderly men and the building of a language school so that local kids can keep the language alive are beautifully done but sort of what you’d expect to see. But for me the genius lies in the true effort Vodafone has put into making this happen and in the appropriateness of the cause it has chosen to champion.
Language is about so much more than a mode of communication. It’s a filter on the world, a world view that is shared by every speaker of that language. Once that language disappears, that unique world view and associated culture disappears with it. And to my mind that is an enormous loss, possibly more significant even than the loss of precious fauna, flora or a unique habitat. Vodafone seems to have grasped this instinctively. Once a language is dead, it has gone forever – there is no linguistic DNA equivalent to that of long-dead mammoths in frozen wastes, ready for science to work its resurrecting magic.
As Gregor Gründgens, the brand director of Vodafone Germany, quite rightly says: “Technology can enable some amazing things. In this case, helping to prevent a language from becoming extinct.”
The power of this campaign lies in its scalability – there are many, many indigenous language on the cusp of disappearance – in its authenticity and in its brilliant fit for a global company that is in the business of facilitating communication between people.