Torrenting is oft-seen as a dirty word -- synonymous with piracy, the dark underbelly of the Internet, and all things the law-abiding citizenry should avoid. P2P client BitTorrent seeks to change that perception with a new ad campaign. Today, the company revealed that it was behind the mysterious billboards that popped up around New York City, L.A. and San Francisco last week -- part of an ad campaign to broaden its audience and prove that it's a useful service for moving information and data whose role should be celebrated, not reviled.
The billboards (see all below) initially featured sentences like "The Internet should be regulated," and "Your data should belong to the NSA." Today, they have been "altered" with graffiti-style edits that now say the Internet should be "people-powered," and that your data actually belongs to you.
"The idea behind this campaign was to reintroduce the technology and the brand to a wider audience," said BitTorrent VP-Marketing Matt Mason. "Everyone wrongly associated the word BitTorrent with piracy, when it's a legitimate Internet technology that moves 40% of the world's Internet traffic, more than http."
The various phases of the campaign were meant to engage the public in an ongoing dialogue. "The first stage of the campaign set up some of the technology issues we as a society are currently discussing, issues we know most people stand with us on," said Mr. Mason. "The stage two reveal today [featuring the edits] is designed to show where BitTorrent stands on these issues, and to show that we are a company committed to building a better Internet, powered, owned and controlled by people as opposed to centralized servers and technology companies."
Ironically, the campaign -- for now -- is all outdoor. "We decided to go with billboards as they're a medium people don't expect to see BitTorrent using," Mr. Mason said, adding that more executions will roll out over the next year, this time, in "every imaginable medium."
"We believe in a distributed Internet, where the end user is in control of their data and creative work, and wanted to create a conversation with the general public about what that means," Mr. Mason explained of the company's philosophy.
But BitTorrent isn't just being preachy with the new campaign. Recently, the company unveiled a way to torrent bundles of content supplied by the artists who made them, as well as a way to let people pay for torrents.