BitTorrent Ad Campaign Aims To Change Internet Pirate Image

BitTorrent has launched a billboard advertising campaign to reverse a brand image nearly as old as the company. It's historically known for its protocol supporting peer-to-peer file sharing as a way to dodge copyright rules. Now, the company aims to reintroduce the technology and the brand to a wider audience in hopes of changing its perception.

"Everyone wrongly associates the word BitTorrent with piracy, when it's a legitimate Internet technology that moves 40% of the world's Internet traffic, more than http," said Matt Mason, executive director of marketing at BitTorrent.

The 30-billboard campaign began rolling out two weeks ago throughout San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Each had a provocative statement addressing a key social issue. "The Internet Should Be Regulated," "Your Data Belongs To The NSA," and "Artists Need to Play by The Rules."



BitTorrent's marketing group turned toward plain wrap white billboards with black letters to deliver bold messages, setting up some of the technology issues that society faces and issues most people understand. Mason thought posting those messages to billboards would make people pause, think and react. And it did. Most understood the meaning, but the company held off with participation in social conversations until unveiling phase two of the campaign, which began Tuesday.

In each city, during the early morning hours, the billboards began to change. The negative messages were crossed out, replaced with more positive messages reflecting the company's core value like "The Internet Should be People Powered;" "Your Data Belongs to You;" and "Artists Need Options."

BitTorrent's company focus points to a distributed Internet, where the end user takes control of their data and creative work, Mason said. Company execs wanted to create a conversation about what that means, reveal where BitTorrent stands on these issues, and demonstrate its commitment to building a better Internet. One that is owned and controlled by people, as opposed to centralized servers and technology companies, he said.

The billboards and the social dialogue reflect the first two stages of the campaign, but there is more to come as the campaign rolls out during the next year cross-media.

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