UK digital champion Lane Fox calls on FMCG brands to support Race Online campaign

Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox, the UK's 'digital champion', has urged consumer brands to increase their participation in a scheme that aims to get more of the public online.

Lane Fox is looking for more FMCG brands to take part in the government-backed Race Online 2012 scheme. Its aim is to get the remaining 8.7m internet-illiterate members of the British public online before next year's London Olympics.

Race Online 2012 has 1285 partners and has already attracted big brands, including Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and BT. However, most of its current brand partners are in the entertainment, media, retail, public and charity sectors.

'I would love to see how we can get more (FMCG brands) involved, from cereal through to chocolate bars and drinks,' said Lane Fox.

She admitted that such brands had not been the campaign's 'primary focus' to date, but said she had recently held discussions with a major food brand about placing messaging on its packaging.

Lane Fox added that Race Online 2012 would deliver benefits for consumer brands: 'It is hard to find a company that doesn't have some stake in making this happen,' she said.

'From a social justice point of view this is very important, let alone from a brutal commercial point of view and wanting our country to be as skilled as possible.'

Her comments came ahead of the launch of Race Online 2012's biggest campaign to date, with partners including the BBC, the Post Office, Three, Mecca Bingo, John Lewis, Sky, TalkTalk and JD Wetherspoon.

The 'Go ON Give an hour' activity breaks this week, to coincide with the clocks going back this weekend. It will encourage consumers to use the extra hour they would usually spend in bed helping people to get online.

The campaign, by Engine, encompasses TV, radio, online and outdoor.

The activity also includes the roll-out of a toolkit for 'digital champions' who have pledged to become involved in the scheme. This offers ideas and tips on how to get more people involved, as well as a Go ON badge, created by 23Red, for use by participating companies and organisations.

IN MY VIEW - MARTHA LANE FOX, UK 'DIGITAL CHAMPION'

"When we started Lastminute.com people could kind of dismiss the internet, but the world has changed. If you look at kids now, there is no split between online and offline. The world has changed fundamentally and we have to seriously address the issues this presents, or businesses won't be able to have a sustainable future.

It is not all negative; it's a fabulous world of excitement: brands are forging deeper relationships with customers, finding new ways of selling products and services and new and bold ways of doing business.

Entrenched interests and outdated marketing structures are being broken quickly."

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