Google India gets moms to make their digital debut

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | May 22, 2015
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The search giant's latest campaign, #GetOnline, urges young digital natives to get their mothers online, as a part of its Help Women Get Online (HWGO) initiative.

Continuing with its signature heart-warming campaigns, Google India is, this time, urging young digital natives to get their mothers online under its Help Women Get Online (HWGO) initiative.

Launched in March this year, the initiative's objective is to help promote digital literacy among women by getting them to understand the power of the internet.

The campaign is backed by survey findings which reveal that only one third of the total internet population in India comprises women. Conducted by speaking to 828 women in India, aged between 18 and 55 years, the survey 'Women and technology' states that non-users of internet surveyed tend to be slightly older than women online and more likely to be married, with children. 76 per cent are full-time housewives. While many who aren't online still had positive attitudes towards technology, users and non-users both shared fears of falling behind in a changing world.

Google #TogetherOnline First Day campaign

Taking cue from this, the search giant has launched a strategic campaign, '#TogetherOnline First Day' which features a young woman leaving her house in a hurry asking her mother if she remembers everything. In few moments, she recalls her own first day at school when she was nervous and her mother comforted her. She goes back to her house to check on her. Here, it is revealed that her mother, sitting in front of a laptop, is taking her first step in to the digital world. The young woman is seen patiently hand-holding her mother through her digital debut.

Executed by Lowe Lintas, the campaign aims to move young digital natives emotionally, so that they make an effort to teach their mothers to come online. "We have noticed that young people tend to give up teaching non-internet users (mostly women) to come online the moment it starts getting difficult explaining things. Hence, we tried creating a beautiful analogy of a daughter's first day at school when her mother patiently stayed with her throughout. Now, it is her duty to support her mother on the first day of her digital journey," says Amer Jaleel, national creative director, Lowe Lintas & Partners.

While various reports and researches state that mobile phones are driving the digital revolution in India, the campaign portrays the mother using a laptop. Jaleel explains that they have purposely used laptop to draw an analogy between the daughter's first day at school, when she sits on a table, and her mother's first day in the digital world.

"Laptop is representative of the digital world. It just brings out the story better visually," he asserts.

The digital first campaign will eventually go on television as well. Apart from this, Google's #GetOnline will be supported by a larger BTL leg which is still being planned.

Sandeep Menon

Amer Jaleel

Speaking about the campaign, Sandeep Menon, country head - marketing for Google India, says, "There are large number of educated women in India with internet access in their households, but they still do not use the internet. We are making an appeal to their children to hold their mom's hand as she discovers a new world online."

The survey also revealed that many Indian women don't see what the internet can do for them, and why they should get online. 49 per cent women don't see any reason to access the internet; 43 per cent women are not interested in anything that is on the internet and equally high percentage, 42 per cent, don't know how to do the things they want to do on the internet. But, younger women are keen to get online, and 32 per cent of all non-internet users plan to use the internet soon, and 46 per cent of non-users in the 18-29 age group are likely to use the internet soon.

The biggest barriers for internet users are cost, connectivity and time. However, the survey states that online privacy can be a key enabler and a motivator for women to get online. With an average of five people in every household, computers tend to be shared, not personal. Some women hesitate, fearing being judged by their in-laws for spending too much time online. Smartphones and internet cafes could be a cheaper, more private way for Indian women to access the internet, revealed the report.

Google's HWGO is an initiative to create awareness about the benefits of internet among 50 million women in India. Under this initiative, Google conducts various outreach and educational programs. The program includes an awareness module, coupled with hands-on training modules aimed at teaching women how to use the internet, including on mobile phones.

The key program partners are Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Axis Bank and Intel. For dissemination and trainings, Google has partnerships with grassroots non-profits such as the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Women Weavers, as well as partnerships with specific State Governments - Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Since the launch of the initiative, Google claims to have directly trained over 1.5 million women on the basics of the internet.

Net connect?

Arjava Vig

For Arjava Vig, creative director, FoxyMoron, the campaign is well-executed and seemed to have been shot in a smaller town where internet penetration needs to be improved.

"The edit could have been a bit better, just seems like the visuals were trying to catch up with the voice over and it lags in places," he notes.

The campaign, he shares, is high on emotional quotient, but lacks call-to-action. A link to the Helping Women Get Online website would have been ideal. "You can't start an initiative and then not tell people how they can participate in it," he rues.

Vig believes that getting online could have also been represented through the mobile medium, as semi-urban and rural India have missed the desktop age.

"Millions of people are going to get online in the next few years and it's all going to be through the mobile phone in their hand, I would have perhaps used phones as the medium for that journey," he states.

Swati Bhattacharya

Meanwhile, Swati Bhattacharya, principal partner - creative, Dentsu Mama Lab gives a thumbs up to the emotional quotient and casting of both the mothers in the ad. However, she rues that the campaign does not give an inside view of a person's first online experience like trying Skype or Facebook or writing the first mail or surfing through a YouTube video of a recipe...

"It leaves me with no residue, no strong action, no strong ouch! And that's where the problem is I guess," she says.

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