Living in America, it’s easy to forget that developing countries have a harder time providing the many things we take granted such as water, electricity, and education. Now a South African-based telecommunications company, the MTN Group is looking to improve literacy by providing downloadable books to any Ugandan who owns a mobile phone. The local telecom partnered with the ad agency MetropolitanRepublic Group in a campaign called “The Everywhere Library” to give out e-books using newspaper ads and simple cellphones.

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To distribute the books, the MetropolitanRepublic Group printed full-page ads in the most popular Ugandan newspapers featuring an image of a full bookshelf. On the spine of each book is a code that users can punch into their phones to download the corresponding titles.

Using a unstructured supplementary service data network – a simple cell phone technology that trades data between mobile device and the network provider – the two companies were able to extend this free access of data to anyone using even the simplest cell phone.

In Uganda where even the food can be scarce, most schools are not equipped with enough books to feed all the hungry young minds. “The Everywhere Library” presents an ingenious and practical alternative that grants more children and adults access to literature. By using technology and print ads, you can also remove the need to build large and expensive infrastructure to maintain libraries. Not to mention all the paper and trees you’ll save.

The campaign ran for four weeks, adding a new library each week to provide the public with free literature. The successful and inspirational campaign won a 2013 Loerie Awards grand prize for media innovation; MTN was also recognized as a brand with environmentally and socially sustainable operations and won Loerie’s Ubuntu award.


Images © MetropolitanRepublic Group