Ubaid Zargar

Lava takes a stand on fake news in its #SendItBack campaign

Smartphone brand Lava has unveiled its latest campaign titled #SendItBack. The campaign highlights the growing menace of fake forwards and the growing spread of misinformation. Depicting how rumours and misinformation can have violent outcomes, the campaign features a dedicated film. Here is an overview.

Indian mobile handset brand Lava has announced the launch of its Republic Day campaign titled #SendItBack. The campaign aims to highlight the prevalence of fake news across social media and how users across platforms often forward information without inspecting its veracity.

Conceptualised and crafted by 82.5 Communications, the campaign features a two minute film that depicts the menacing outcomes that fake news can engender. Showcasing a remote setting, the campaign film presents a confrontation between native villagers and a couple of travelers that occurs due to unfounded rumours.

While the frantic travelers are being charged at by the natives, a boy is seen handing over what appears to be a signboard, that reads 'Back' – a representation of the 'Back' emoji used on social media. The sign is then passed on from one person to another, underlining the necessity of fact checking.

The ad film, as the brand reveals, took its inspiration from a tragedy that befell a couple of travelers in Karbi Anglong, where an enraged native mob lynched the travelers on suspicion of child trafficking. While this incident in isolation doesn't paint the whole picture, the devilry of fake news has gripped the social media space so firmly that its prevalence is alarmingly high.

It's a cause, granted. But we wondered why a smartphone brand like Lava would delve into a matter like this. We reached out to the brand to get some insights. Speaking on the brand connection and the intent of the campaign, Mugdh Rajit, marketing and S&D strategy head, LAVA points out that the campaign is in line with the brand's core identity – 'Proudly Indian'.

Mugdh Rajit
Mugdh Rajit

He says, “The positioning that we take as a brand is being 'Proudly Indian'. In fact, our previous campaigns have all carried the same message. And this campaign is part of our strategy of encouraging and inspiring society as a whole, to eradicate certain issues that hinder us from being proud Indians.”

Commenting on the need for brands to go beyond products and sales, Rajit suggests that brands are expected to take a stand on certain issues. He says, “Consumers have evolved over time. They expect brands to stand for more than just selling their product (e.g, Gillette, WhatsApp). Over the last year or so, we have seen some leading brands rising to this expectation by taking a stance on racial injustice, bullying etc. Being a brand which is imbibed with the value of 'Indianness', we felt that we should take a stance on a social cause which is both relevant to our industry and one that helps in the progress of the country.”

We also reached out to 82.5 Communications to know how the campaign was conceived and executed. Sumanto Chattopadhyay, chairman and chief creative officer, 82.5 Communications, says the objective of the campaign was to create an authentic portrayal of mishaps that occur on account of fake forwards.


He says, “There have been many cases of fake forwards leading to injury and even death. Our discussions with Lava centred around how to create an authentic portrayal of such an incident, while avoiding the graphic portrayal of violence.”

He adds, “As we are asking people to do something completely new -- to use the 'Back' emoji -- it was important to 'demonstrate' this in the film, so the call to action would become easy to understand.”

Commenting on the use of the 'Back' emoji, Chattopadhyay opines, “We realised that using the 'Back' emoji, available on all our phones, is a simple yet effective way of returning a forward to the sender when you are not entirely sure if the content is genuine.”

Expert Review:

Raj Nair, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Madison BMB

Lava takes a stand on fake news in its #SendItBack campaign

Any attempt on a brand’s part to deal with the malaise that is fake news is commendable. Let me talk about the things that are spot on with the film:

According to me, the casting, performances and locations are perfect. The instances of lynching in cases where people have been wrongly labelled as child lifters have happened by misunderstanding in small villages, where fear and rumour mongering is a high reason and logic gets left by the wayside.

Having said that, without meaning to be too critical, if the audience for the film is the same as the audience depicted in it, then will they get the message of the 'Back' emoji? That was the only question I had. And honestly, I think maybe not.

The message in itself is creative: Go Back and Check the veracity of the message before you send it forward (but will the audience the message is meant for, get it? It’s fabulous for Lava to attempt this and kudos to them for that. And I really hope that it works for the brand and the audience it is meant for.

Harjot Narang, general manager, Taproot Dentsu

Lava takes a stand on fake news in its #SendItBack campaign

One must always react to any creative piece instinctively before any deeper analysis is done. That is how consumers and public at large do too. Instinctively, the campaign touches on the issue of fake forwards which is really relevant today and so will get enough interest and views. From an execution point of view, the film feels a bit long and that harms the want to view it again. The key issue I see is in the connect to Lava Mobiles as a brand and its 'proudly Indian' positioning - the connection is a bit tenuous in the communication and it does not tie back seamlessly to a brand message.

I am not sure of the intent of the campaign. If the intent was for the brand to ride on a socially relevant issue and build awareness and relevance, then the lack of connect does not let it really do so effectively. It tries to talk about a deeper issue but leaves the feeling of “why you?” in the mind of the viewer. If the brand’s point of view on an issue is not unique, it usually risks becoming yet another voice and is easily forgotten.

From a pure viewability point, what will work in this communication is largely the choice of the issue that can create social unrest – something that mostly everyone fears at some level. From an execution point of view - the casting is very real and relatable and that keeps the communication rooted.