WhatsApp ad campaign urges its Indian users to share joy and not rumours

WhatsApp has launched ‘Share joy, not rumours’ its first integrated campaign in India. Created by Taproot Dentsu, the TV ads which were released earlier this week come after a publicity blitz by the Facebook-owned messaging service, which started with radio ads and a print campaign.

‘Share joy, not rumours’ is in response to widespread instances of lynching and mob violence, apparently inspired by fake news forwarded on the platform which is used by an estimated 200 million people in India.

In the wake of demands from the government to regulate the spread of potentially-violence inducing messaging, WhatsApp curtailed the number of times a message could be forwarded. It also clearly indicated the difference between an original and a ‘forwarded’ message. The campaign is a continuation of its efforts to curb fake news on the platform.

The three films in the campaign show a young professional, a cooking obsessed housewife and a student take steps to stop the spread of falsehoods on WhatsApp.

Taproot Dentsu landed the assignment given its previous association with Facebook on women’s safety projects for India. 

Speaking about the campaign to Mumbrella, Taproot Dentsu’s chief creative officer and co-founder Agnello Dias said: “Given that WhatsApp has never done an integrated TVC campaign anywhere in the world, this was a thrilling opportunity. There were no pre-set guidelines. It was a collaborative process to build the voice together, with a deep sense of how WhatsApp is used in India.

“The overwhelming majority use WhatsApp in a positive manner. So it was very important for the campaign to educate people to stay safe as they continue to use it to otherwise spread joy.”  

The decision to portray WhatsApp users who spread falsehoods as people amenable to suggestion and who were easily convinced about the error of their ways has struck many industry observers as unconvincing. Given that across the social media landscape, attempts to identify or clarify fake news are often met with hostility or incredulity.

Asked about this choice, Dias said: “While conceptualising the campaign, we took a conscious call to not paint indiscriminate forwarders as offenders. 

“The vast majority of people who forward such messages do it without intending any malice. If they can be convinced to be sceptical about forwarding messages then our hope was that those with malicious intent would be deprived of the oxygen. 

Asked if the treatment of the film was a conscious homage to the popular ‘be like Bill’ meme from a few years ago, Dias said: “The effort wasn’t so much to riff on that meme but to etch protagonists that people could take inspiration from and in their small way, join the fight against misinformation.

“Often the right-thinking people choose to say nothing. We hope they can see themselves be like the protagonists shown in the film and take on a more active role.” 

 The campaign intends targeting all users of WhatsApp via variants in many major Indian languages.


Agency: Taproot Dentsu India, Mumbai

CCOs and co-founders: Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi

CEO: Umesh Shrikhande

General manager: Ayesha Ghosh

Head – strategic planning: Shashank Lanjekar

Creative director: Neeraj Kanitkar

Copy supervisor: Apoorva Jain

Junior art director: Vijay Manure

Senior art director: Yogesh Gavhane

Associate account director: Gargi Vegiraju

Senior account director: Radhika Sabherwal

Production house: Oink Films

Director: Shirsha Guha Thakurta

Producer: Ramya Rao


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing