In memory of dial-up tones, frozen faces and broken links: Contagion and Chorus put early internet moments on display

The stuttering dial-up tone of a modem typified the internet experience in the 1990s and early 2000s. And in those early online days, there were no guarantees. The line could be dropped any moment. YouTube clips buffered for longer than they played. And video calls were reduced to an unimaginably awkward series of frozen snapshots of family members.

Lest we forget how far we have come since these struggles,  Contagion has released a new campaign for Chorus, which shows iconic early internet moments on display in a museum.        

Set in a variety of museum spaces, the creative depicts an exhibition of bad Internet experiences. From unflattering expressions delivered during frozen video conference calls to dinosaurs that appear when your Internet doesn’t connect, the print and outdoor taps into the common frustrations that are a result of slow internet.

“Like floppy disks and modem dial up tones, slow Internet is becoming a distant memory for most New Zealanders as the rollout of better broadband puts these frustrations in their rightful place – the past”, says Bridget Taylor, executive creative director at Contagion.

The new campaign, which will be rolled out across digital, radio, outdoor and social media, has been developed to draw awareness of the 60 percent of New Zealanders who have access to better broadband but haven’t yet taken advantage of its availability in their regions.

Each of creative pieces prompts viewers to visit the map section of the Chorus website, where they can see if faster broadband is available in their region.         

“The creative solution allows us to communicate with multiple audiences in a relevant and targeted way based on the broadband network available in their area,” says Karren Harker, head of marketing at Chorus. “It appeals to the very real desire for progress and having a better broadband experience now, while prompting New Zealanders to investigate their broadband options.”

Chorus recently won the supreme TVNZ NZ Marketing award for the Gigatown campaign, which saw regions across the country vying against each other to determine who would get ultra-fast broadband first. Dunedin eventually won the competition, and ever since Chorus has been working to install fibre optics in as many places as possible. 

And while progress is being made, signing up for ultra-fast broadband can also prove tricky. NBR recently reported that Spark customers looking to install ultra-fast broadband end up having to call the service provider an average of 14 times and should expect about three visits from a technician. Spark chief executive for home, mobile and business Jason Paris also told NBR that there was an enormous amount of back and forth communication between the telco and Chorus.

In addition to being frustrating, this cumbersome process could also dissuade time-pressed consumers from making the switch to a faster broadband option.      

In response to the increased demand on the call centre, Spark has announced plans to increase its support staff by 100 over the next ten weeks. This will hopefully help to reduce the amount of time customers spend waiting for assistance and will also relieve some of the pressure on staff.           


Client: Chorus

Client: Karren Harker, Head of Marketing and Anna Skerten, Communications Consultant

Agency: Contagion

Planner: Dean Taylor

Client Partners: Sarah McGregor, George Sim, Tim Brown

Executive Creative Director: Bridget Taylor

Creatives: Verity Dookia, Thomas Marcusson

Design: Phila Lagaluga

Producer: Lauren Wethey

Media: Richard Thompson, Suzie Thompson

Social: Tom Bates

Production Partner: Collective Force

Photography: Charles Howells

Producer: Jason Jones

Retouching –TailorTailor and Charles Howells

CGI – TailorTailor

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