Ananya Pathak

WhatsApp's COVID era ads emphasise privacy and staying connected

Two TVCs were released by the brand over the weekend. We spoke to Avinash Pant, marketing director, Facebook India, about the ideation.

Over the weekend, Facebook-owned messenger (app) WhatsApp released its first global campaign ‘It’s Between You’. The two TV commercials were released as a part of the campaign.

They narrate real stories of how Indians communicate daily on the app with their closest relationships. Riding on the current COVID pandemic crisis, the films focus on the importance of staying connected in these times, as well as privacy.

Conceptualised by BBDO India, each film highlights how WhatsApp’s features, like texts, video calls, or even a voice message, help replicate in-person conversations, and bring people closer.

Speaking about the campaign, Avinash Pant, marketing director, Facebook India, told afaqs! over an email, “Our belief is that, when privacy is deeply felt, relationships feel more intimate and real. Privacy gives people the ability to communicate as their true selves. That is what comes through in these ads.”

Avinash Pant
Avinash Pant

The first film ‘Caregiver’ is based on a true story about an elderly woman and her caregiver, who are now separated from each other. The woman is seen sharing her private moments with her nurse over WhatsApp, through a text message, an audio message, and a video call at different times of the day.

The second story shows a girl/woman giving encouragement to her elder sister through a WhatsApp video call, when the latter is hesitant to give herself a haircut at home.

The focus on WhatsApp’s video calling feature in both the ads makes us wonder if the use of the feature has grown in the past couple of months.

In a blog post in April, WhatsApp notified that people, on average, are spending over 15 billion minutes daily on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic.

A recent Kantar report revealed that across all stages of the pandemic, the social media app was experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected. Overall, WhatsApp saw a 40 per cent increase in usage.

In the early phase of the pandemic, the usage increased by 27 per cent, in the mid-phase by 41 per cent, and countries in the late phase of the pandemic saw an increase of 51 per cent.

Commenting on the usage, Pant says, “WhatsApp is serving as a crucial lifeline, with people relying on the platform to privately communicate with those that matter - families, friends, as well as colleagues - while often separated across long distances. It has increasingly become a safe space for people to communicate freely and experience real relationships with their loved ones.”

He added that the campaign is aimed at all users of WhatsApp, irrespective of where they’re from, or what language they speak.

Over the course of the campaign, these films will be available in English and seven regional languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi and Kannada. It will run for 10 weeks across key mediums like TV and digital OTT, in addition to the brand’s own platforms, Facebook and Instagram.