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WhiteHat Jr withdraws ads after complaints and social media anger


By Amit Bapna | Editor-at-large

October 30, 2020 | 3 min read

After getting much outrage and complaints about its adverts, ed-tech start-up WhiteHat Jr withdrew the ads recently and is also in the process of reviewing its marketing campaigns.

WhiteHat Jr withdraws ads

WhiteHat Jr withdraws ads

The Indian coding platform company was acquired by one of the largest ed-tech unicorns BYJU's in August 2020 and has been aggressively pushing out its brand messages via its campaigns, last few months, even before it got acquired.

The coding company’s hi-decibel marketing campaign did get it noticed. The adverts, however, also generated a mixed response from the audience with a cross-section of them showing their displeasure known with the kind of creatives pushed out.

The ads garnered outrage on social media around the claims and the depiction of a mix of life-changing moments for kids if they learnt to code. Many parents felt that the brand narrative and the messaging led to putting unnecessary pressure on young kids, and thus complaints were made against the ads.

Course correction

  • ASCI has stepped in. As per the leading self-regulatory body ASCI, “it processed 15 complaints against 7 advertisements of White hat Jr. Five of these advertisements were in potential violation of the ASCI code, and the advertiser agreed to immediately withdraw these advertisements when ASCI intervened.”
  • Elaborating further on the process followed, Manisha Kapoor, secretary general, ASCI said, “For two other advertisements of White Hat Jr that were processed, ASCI noted that they did not violate the ASCI code, and hence, complaints against these advertisements were not upheld. However, ASCI noted that one of these advertisements could be in potential violation of The Emblems and Name (Prevention of Improper use) Act, and therefore directed the complainant to approach the government.”
  • She added, “The ASCI team has connected with the advertiser on these ads, and we are given to understand that some of the advertisements referred to on social media are old and have already been withdrawn.”

Coding it right

  • Based on the feedback on social media and also complaints that were made to The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and reviewed by them, the brand has pulled back the ads and also is reviewing its marketing campaigns and communication.
  • The company’s official holding statement said, “We have reviewed consumer feedback on our marketing campaign and will keep improving our communication. WhiteHat Jr is the first to create the kids coding category at scale worldwide and as such, we're learning our way through the best approach to communicate a new-to-the-world product.”
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