Indian Police tote memes & pop culture references to fight COVID-19

Knowing that mere presence on social media won’t be enough, law enforcement forces have been leveraging everything from old ads to movies in a bid to keep people informed

e4m by Sanstuti Nath
Updated: Apr 21, 2020 3:08 PM
jaipur police

The prompt dissemination of COVID-19 information and curbing the spread of misinformation have become of the biggest challenge for authorities. To counter this problem, police forces across the country are arming themselves with social media tools.

Knowing that increasing presence on these platforms won’t be enough, law enforcement forces are leveraging memes and infographics for maximum traction. The overarching themes in most of these communications are on staying at home and practising social distancing.

Take for instance the Jaipur police, who warned city dwellers to stay indoors or risk listening to the ruined AR Rahman classic Masakali 2.0 at the police station. Mumbai Police have been using popular ads from the 90s to get people to pay attention to topics such as "PSPO Kya hai?"!! These creatives have attracted the attention of not just the immediate target audience, but of people across the nation.

While Mumbai Police have been using old ads, altered movie posters and references from iconic TV shows, the Maharashtra Police's page have been referencing international web series in their social service messages. Pune Police have used altered book covers and movie posters to appeal to their audiences.

Sunchita Pandey, who handles the social media for Mumbai Police, Pune Police and Maharashtra Police as a whole, said: “Strong presence on social media helps a great deal because idea is to connect with maximum people across the ages and spread the awareness. The challenge is to keep up with the audience's attention span and give them a reason to return to the page, where we keep regularly updating information regarding COVID-19. The mandate is to connect with a maximum number of people and relate to all age groups.”

Pandey added: “We work for content which looks relevant to almost everyone, and it has really helped in getting people's attention and winning their faith. The relatability and prompt reply has helped Police in winning the people’s faith. That’s the whole purpose of the pages, to become more accessible and people should not hesitate in contacting them.”

All three pages that Pandey handles are distinct in content and language. “Every city has a different feel and vibe. Pune Police and Mumbai Police react differently to things. The Maharashtra Police page addresses the entire state. That’s how we decide on what language to use. There are very clear guidelines about what we post. Our creatives can be quirky but they can’t be disrespectful to anyone”, she added.

Apart from Maharashtra, law enforcement of other states like Punjab and Karnataka are also making their social media presence felt. Bengaluru city police celebrated their CP heroes and showcased the impact created during the COV19 lockdown on social media. While Punjab Police joined TikTok and Sharechat to reach the maximum people.

Surendra Lamba, Staff Officer to DGP Punjab, said the reason behind joining the ‘informal social media platforms” like TikTok and Sharechat was to engage the youth. He said, “The idea is to engage and inform a maximum number of people regarding Corona crisis and establish a two- way communication between the police and people so that they can come to us for any help rather than venturing out themselves.”

Lamba informed us that they already had a presence on social media, but due to Corona crisis, creative agencies like DesignBoxed have come forward to help the law enforcement reach out to a maximum number of people.

He said, “With DesignBoxed on board we have increased our reach and engagement to a large scale. This gives us better access and branding and we plan to use this social media conversation as a powerful tool in implementing our day-to-day activities even after the health crisis is over.”

“COVID 19 - has made this need even more necessary, and has created both the opportunity and the necessity for Police forces across the world to take to social networks, to inform, and care for their citizens”, said Subramanian, Director of Business Development of Mirum India.

He added, “The responsibility of a socialist function like a Police force is not just created to enforce Law and Order, it is to build communities. Today, communities are not just those that exist in our neighbourhoods, or building complex, or even right next door; today, communities exist online. We love to share content with, celebrate with and nowadays even host 'Watch Parties' with our friends and communities online. So it only becomes logical that the same logic is applied to online communities so that people have the freedom to connect and communicate freely.”






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