During the first round of the Final Four on Saturday, Verizon aired ads that would crush any child’s dream, with stars and celebrities saying they shouldn’t aspire to become one of them.
The ad (watch it in full below) features stars like LeBron James, Adriana Lima, and Drew Brees saying “we don’t need more” people like them.
Instead, the ad wants to interest children in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers – doctors, engineers, and scientists.
In an interview with Business Insider, Verizon’s CMO Diego Scotti said “our mission is to deliver the promise of the digital world. What we mean is that we will enable everything that is connected to giving people the ability to make the most out of this amazing digital world.”
The campaign, one of the first from Verizon not to sell any particular product, is part of Scotti’s push to position the company as a tech and media company rather than a traditional telecoms company. Scotti explained that as the company moves into this direction, it believes part of its mission is to take on a more societal role.
It’s only the beginning of the campaign, but Verizon is already looking to involve more celebrities and athletes in the future.
— Tara (@teeslo) April 1, 2017
— Rachel Szenay (@rszenay) April 1, 2017
The campaign, for which Verizon created a behind-the-scenes video, got positive reactions on social media.
“It’s not only just what we’re doing from a business standpoint to create products and services but also related to how we think about society. What we see is that a big percentage of the population, and kids in particular, don’t have the technology literacy or the access to succeed in this new world,” Scotti said.
The new campaign is the first to promote Verizon’s innovative learning programs, in which it has invested over $160 million in the past five years.
Verizon signed up over 430 schools across the US to its program. When it partners with a school it first identifies where it can help and then provides schools with free access to technology, internet connections, and created a full curriculum which it makes available to teachers.
“We don’t want to just come in and out of the schools and the lives of these kids,” Scotti said.
The programs with each school last a minimum of two years and Scotti said he’s looking for new partners to grow the program.
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