Vodafone Has the Last Word in ‘First’ Campaign to Save Ancient Language

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Telecom companies survive when people talk to one another. Vodafone went the extra mile in its effort to encourage communication in one particular part of the world: a village in Mexico where the last two speakers of a dying language, Ayapaneco, live.

The problem, as the UK’s Campaign Live reports, was that the last two speakers, both men in their 70s, hadn’t spoken to each other in years due to a rift about the language itself. Their silence and fallout would mean the end of Ayapaneco and another piece of Mexican history lost; but Vodafone wouldn’t let that happen. 

The brand and local villagers teamed up to build a school in town and dispatched Stanford University linguistic anthropologist Professor James A. Fox to speak with the men and fill them in on their cultural responsibility to pass on the language. The entire effort was documented in a short film as part of the Vodafone Firsts campaign across 10 markets.[more]

“‘First’ demonstrates how language—one of the oldest forms of communication—can be given a new lease of life thanks to modern communications: mobile technology and the Internet,” said Gregor Gründgens, the brand director of Vodafone Germany, according to Marketing Magazine. “Technology can enable some amazing things. In this case, helping to prevent a language from becoming extinct.”

To keep the project—and Mexican language—alive, Vodafone has created a mobile site that serves as an Ayapaneco dictionary where users can “adopt” words. There, visitors can find videos of the two elders pronouncing various Ayapaneco terms. The linguistic project promotes Vodafone mobile, to be sure, but it also promotes a community’s heritage, education, pride and culture in a way that transcends the campaign itself.

It also celebrates the joy of first times—discovery, learning, taking that first step—as shown in the campaign’s hero video:

Find out more about the brand’s ongoing “First” content marketing campaign at firsts.com or check it out on Twitter at the hashtag #first.

Connect with Mark Miller on Twitter: @markjmill

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