Does WhatsApp India's first TV campaign make the cut?

We chatted with Neeraj Kanitkar, Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu to understand what went behind conceptualising the brand’s first-ever TVC

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Dec 6, 2018 9:05 AM

WhatsApp India recently launched its first ever TV campaign called ‘Share Joy, Not Rumours’ as the latest step in a comprehensive effort to address the challenge of misinformation and pernicious rumours.

WhatsApp worked closely with the Mumbai agency Taproot Dentsu and the filmmaker Shirsha Guha Thakurta to develop three sixty second films that each convey real scenarios about rumours that have spread on WhatsApp via spam as well as in family and school groups. Each film's protagonist teaches someone important in their lives to not spread rumours and to use WhatsApp controls such as the ability to block senders and leave groups where rumours are spread. We chatted with Neeraj Kanitkar, Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu to understand what went behind conceptualizing the brand’s first-ever TVC.

Kanitkar shared that given that WhatsApp has never done an integrated TVC campaign anywhere in the world, this was a thrilling opportunity. He revealed that while conceptualising the campaign, they took a conscious call to not paint indiscriminate forwarders as offenders. “Since often, the vast majority of people who forward such messages do it without intending any malice. If they can be convinced to be skeptical about forwarding messages then our hope was that those with malicious intent would be deprived of the oxygen. “

Kanitkar exclaimed that the process of making the films was a real treat. “We shot across Delhi and Mumbai, sometimes with real families with almost no acting experience to play key roles, and they did a great job!”

Expert eye

Praveen Nair, Creative Director, Jack in the Box Worldwide opines that while it is a great intent shown by the brand to address a very prevalent problem that plagues the society, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. “In masking the communication under the goodness of sharing, the brand has missed an opportunity to drive home an important message. Yes, it does explain how positively this messaging platform can be used, but has it brought to fore the impact of its misuse? The only question to ask is... is this campaign powerful enough to initiate a change in behaviour, in this case, a tendency to share things ignorantly and irresponsibly?”

Faisal Haq, VP - Operations (North), WATConsult opines that it finally seems that all roads are leading not just only towards 2019 but 2019 general elections… “Just before Rajasthan and Telangana state elections Facebook-owned company WhatsApp have released three one-minute films in nine different languages and with this it is not just conceding but trying to crackdown spread of fake news and rumours on its platform.”

Haq terms it as “a well-crafted campaign that not just apogee various scenarios we usually deal on daily basis on different WhatsApp personal and professional groups but how to understand the impact and act wisely with the fake news and rumours by talking to the source sending these messages.” He likes that the campaign also highlights the app features like remove the user spreading these fake news or leave/delete the group if need be.  

Says Rohan Patil, AVP - Client Servicing, Geometry Encompass, “With great art direction, the ad has been produced in a lovely manner putting the message across not only seamlessly, but also with such simplicity. Great work WhatsApp! We needed this link (especially my dad), and has been shared on my Family group.” 

Rajeesh Rajagopalan, Mumbai Head, Grapes Digital remarks that the campaign works as it's straight to the point and does that without being preachy. “It communicates the thought beautifully, in a manner that's easy to understand, considering the audience is across age groups, geographies and social strata. And, at the same time it's entertaining enough to hold the audience for a minute. Fake messages are a serious issue, and any campaign that addresses social issues usually face the challenge of being boring and dry.”

Deepak Singh, CCO, YAAP is of the opinion that being the first-ever ad from Whatsapp, which is a cult brand amongst the youth, he expected more from it in terms of story-telling. “It is a little too explanatory right now. The execution per se is fine. The characters chosen, the college setting, everything fits the scenario well. But I feel they could have played around with the story and concept to a slightly larger extent,” Singh says.          



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