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The People Selling The NBN Still Don't Know How To Sell The NBN

NBN Co is a black box. A company that — from the outside — looks so afraid of bad press that it will put terrible videos and press releases out there to get something vaguely close to a positive story. We don’t ask the company questions anymore because we know we won’t get answers. Only carefully tailored PR BS designed to throw us off whatever we may be writing.

To be fair, none of this is the fault of NBN Co: it’s a massive political football. Senate Estimates hearings are held that go on for days about who said what at the company in charge of Australia’s most important 21st Century infrastructure project.

There was one instance where Senators argued with the head of NBN Co about the tweets a PR person had been sending out, accusing her of holding a “political bias”. Yes, really. That sounds like an argument idiotic commenters on Whirlpool should be having. Not Senators and corporate executives.

So is it any wonder that the gun-shy NBN Co puts out crap like the stuff on its YouTube channel and on its blog?

The videos they post use words like “silicon status“; “iFamily” “cyberkids” and “genNBN” Surely even people who don’t know about the internet think that’s on the nose, right?

Then there’s the story posted today about kids finding friends over the internet, which is a half-sweet tale about two kids playing Little Big Planet together.

That new “story” posted to the company’s YouTube channel this morning was accompanied by a press release that read like so:



Confused? So were we.

The release supposes that Aussies have never heard of the internet before; never knew we could play games on it and tries to build hype over these new discoveries by pairing them with buzzwords like “social”, “game changer” and “disruptive”. It’s endemic of NBN Co these days: boring news prepared by boring people to post in boring places. It turns something insanely sexy — superfast infrastructure for all — into something insanely dull.

Many of the ads are charming, like the story of Nonna Paola (above) who wanted to talk to her family in Italy. In her “story”, NBN connected a restaurant near here (what?) to the National Broadband Network (I think?) so she could use Google Plus to talk to her family. It’s sweet to watch Nonna Paola go nuts over seeing her family on the screen, but it’s fundamentally ignorant. NBN Co didn’t invent the internet. They didn’t invent Google Plus. They didn’t invent a cable connecting Australia to Italy for the conversation to take place. NBN wants to make you feel good about the internet it’s building, but in truth it hasn’t built a goddamn thing.

These ads are bad, and NBN Co needs to stop making them. Maybe I don’t like these ads because they just aren’t for me, or maybe it’s because they’re trying to pretend that they actually invented the internet. Either way, it’s not endearing anyone to the NBN, and for a government business now hell-bent on winning people over to justify the massive capital outlay, that’s a problem.

Fire your agencies and start again: the NBN should be massively exciting, but instead it’s being sold to us like we’ve never heard of the internet before. The NBN in 2015 is boring, and it only has itself to blame.

You want to get people excited about the network? Tell them when it’s coming to them. Tell them how fast they’ll be able to do things they get frustrated with now. Tell them it will save lives. Tell them it will give Australia something to be proud of again. Tell them the truth.


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