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  • Samradni

Everything that’s wrong with White Hat Jr. Advertisements

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

This might be the first time, on The Marketing Empress that I am actually writing a condemning post about a brand and its efforts.

But given the situation, this one is a must.


Recently the WhiteHat Jr. ads received a lot of flak on social media and complaints that led to ASCI (Advertising Standard Council of India) asking the Byju’s owned start-up to take down their ads.


Advertising has evolved manifolds, but at times we see certain brands going a little overboard with the power of persuasion that advertising can provide.


In this blog post, we analyze the overall model of WhiteHat Jr. and also analyze the ad campaigns that portray an ever increasing need for children to learn ‘coding’.

We look at answering the following questions:

1. What is WhiteHat Jr. and how does WhiteHat Jr. work?

2. Analysis of the various advertising campaigns of WhiteHat Jr.

3. Social Media outrage on the advertising campaigns of WhiteHat Jr.

4. What led to the ban of WhiteHat Jr. ads


Let’s understand each one of them


1. What is WhiteHat Jr. and how does it work?


WhiteHat Jr. is an ed-tech start-up that provides coding courses for kids from the age of 6.

Within 18 months of the launch of the start-up, it was acquired by Byjus for $300 million.

It’s a start-up that pushes an ideology that going forward, kids will be introduced to a race in technology and hence it’s important to learn the basics of coding from a very young age.

The model is completely online and it provides one-on-one teaching for kids aged between 6-14 yrs of age.

The name ‘WhiteHat Jr.’ comes from the hacking community, where ‘WhiteHat developers’ are considered to be ethical in doing what they do best.

The working of the platform is pretty straight-forward, kids enroll for the classes which cost anywhere between 6,000 to even 1 lakh+ depending on the number of classes and the level of teaching (beginner to advanced).


2. Analysis of the various advertising campaigns of WhiteHat Jr.


Now coming to the main part, while personally, I feel the ‘need’ for kids to learn coding at such a young age can still be debatable.

But I feel the brand has very well targeted the ‘ever-competitive’ nature of the parents who wish their kid to achieve anything and everything irrespective of his/her capabilities to multi-task.

The first set of ads released were targeting an aspirational emotion in the minds of the parents, by highlighting “harr baccha WhiteHat Jr. par seekh ke app banayega”.


You can watch the ad below


Well, firstly Bravo- the brand has been able to capture parents’ attention pretty well.

Think about it, the ‘neighbors envy’ has been highlighted aptly here.

We see investors fighting for a share in the app that has been developed by the kid, through his/her learnings from WhiteHat Jr.

Now is this even possible? Let’s assume with the in-depth understanding that the app provides, every smart kid might develop an app.

But the exaggerated reaction of the investors is taking it to another level.

And is possibly not even needed, yes you can learn to code on the app, and yes you can possibly develop your own app with that- but investors fighting is portraying an image that doesn’t connect with the brand offering.

Also, I feel the whole expertise needed in making an app is ridiculed here because it denotes that the process is extremely simple with the app.

A matter of fact is that not every kid, even after enrolling in WhiteHat Jr. can create an app- isn’t the ad then adding to the expectations of the parents, and adding to the pressure on the kid?

While this is completely my own opinion, and everyone has a right to their own perspective, I feel kids need to explore the basic joys during that tender age, instead of getting into a race of creating an app.


This is the next ad, which most of us must have seen around IPL.

But the longer version of the ad mentions “WhiteHat Jr. Duniya ka sabse best platform hai, coding seekhne ke liye”

My first reaction to that was- what?

How can a brand comment on that even without using a Disclaimer?

During my experience in advertising, the most important thing that I learned is- any claim that you make, needs to be supported by a disclaimer.

There was none, included here.


Let's move to the TME ratings now

Relevance – 6/10

Creativity- 4/10

Strategy- 7/10

TG Focus- 7/10

Impact- 5/10

Overall Rating: 5.8

Let me know in the comments below if you have a differing opinion!


3. Social Media outrage on the advertising campaigns of WhiteHat Jr.


Anything and everything that’s overdone or simply wrong- is never hidden, especially when it comes to social media.

The outrage on social media was very evident for all the WhiteHat Jr. ads as well as other communication from the brand.

It all started with a post that went viral on the job description for WhiteHat Jr. teachers.

It mentioned “No coding knowledge required”.

It created a lot of Buzz (What is Buzz Marketing) and more so because these same teachers will be responsible for teaching coding to kids.

But still, let’s give them some benefit of the doubt- they may train the teachers on-boarded, before letting them teach.

The other outrage came in through multiple tweets around ad bombardment and over-promising claims.

Some of my favorite tweets are given below-



Many people on LinkedIn and Twitter tried to uncover the apparent ‘dark side’ of WhiteHat Jr. but their content was removed and even the accounts were suspended.

Is this suppressing freedom of speech? Let us know in the comments below


4. What led to the ban of WhiteHat Jr. ads


Let’s start by talking a little about ASCI because a lot of non-advertising people were not aware of this authority.

ASCI, that is, Advertising Standard Council of India is the authority that looks after all the rules being incorporated by brands, in their advertising efforts.

It has its own rules that can be termed as ‘violations’ and any brand portraying these in their commercials can be asked to re-work or directly take the ad off-air.

It’s also a platform where consumers can complain about a brand, and after proper evaluation by ASCI, the further course of action is determined.

Now, what went wrong with WhiteHat Jr.?

ASCI received over 15 complaints from consumers that stated the ads were misleading consumers and were in potential violations put forth by ASCI.

The ads under major scrutiny were the ones with claims such as “Taking the kids to Silicon Valley to shape up their future”.

Another problem was that many apps developed by kids on the Play store are credited to WhiteHat Jr. instead of providing recognition to the kids.

In the end, WhiteHat Jr. withdrew 5 of their ads that were credited as ‘dubious’ and providing ‘unsubstantiated claims’ as per ASCI.


Conclusion:


While every brand has a right to do things their way, the question arises, on how far will you go to get more people to invest in your product? Irrespective of the advertising backlash, the brand is still doing pretty well, they might definitely be doing something right.


*The views expressed in the article are personal, and I do not take the responsibility of promoting hatred towards the brand*

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