Many think of the Internet as a democratic medium with its immediacy and lack of centralized control. In advertising, a radical democratization occasioned by the digital revolution has had important effects: digital advertising has fewer boundaries, lower costs and greater reach than conventional media such as print, radio and television.
In this context, the exhibition Ads for People focuses on how public service announcements and non-profit campaigns have benefitted dramatically from the Internet’s combination of flexibility and affordability. “Around the world, a fresh model of advertising has emerged allowing additional voices to join the conversations that both develop and reflect our cultural values,” says the exhibition’s curator, Lisa Deanne Smith.
Campaigns featured in Ads for People include: Your Man Reminder, an app developed by Toronto’s John St. agency to encourage breast cancer awareness; The Girl Epidemic, a YouTube campaign by international agency StrawberryFrog to raise awareness and funds to educate underprivileged girls in India; and the Rivers of Light/ Operación Ríos de Luz program developed by Lowe-SSP3 in Bogota as part of a strategy to diminish guerrilla warfare. Ads for People combines traditional media with recent platforms (phone apps; social media) to draw attention to these new voices, their concerns and advertising methods.