LAVA Republic Day campaign titled #SendItBack puts the spotlight on the menace of fake forwards. We talk to the brand-agency duo to know what went behind its conceptualization.
Call it misinformation or fake news, the phenomenon of fake forwards and incorrect information has been plaguing the world for quite some time now with every third person falling victim to it. Social media giants like Facebook and WhatsApp have been struggling to curb ‘fake news’ on their platform. A BBC Analysis revealed that at least 31 people were killed in 2017 and 2018 as a result of mob attacks fuelled by rumors on WhatsApp and social media. Such is the impact. LAVA Republic Day campaign addresses this issue
While the whole of India celebrated the 71st Republic Day, Lava Mobiles set out to kickstart a movement against fake forwards in the form of the #SendItBack.
The 2-minute digital film highlights the ongoing menace of fake forwarded messages that create panic and fuel acts of violence. It urges all mobile phone users in the country to pause, think and send the ‘Back’ emoji to verify the authenticity of a forwarded message before sharing it with the others.
A look at the making of LAVA Republic Day campaign.
Insight – #SendItBack
The positioning that LAVA takes as a brand is of Proudly Indian. In the past year and a half, the brand has done 4 other films and digital campaigns to re-enforce the message of #ProudlyIndian.
The core consumer insight behind the latest campaign is that bad news spreads faster than good news. Because of social media and messaging platforms, the rate at which it happens has increased manifold, to the extent that it leads to violence and loss of life and property.
Campaign objective and Rationale
“As a #ProudlyIndian mobile brand, we feel it’s our moral duty to educate users against it. I order to do that, we have sparked off the #SendItBack movement. Every time someone forwards you a suspicious message, let’s reply with a back emoji & ask the sender to verify its authenticity. #SendItBack,” shared Mugdh Rajit, Marketing and S&D Strategy Head, LAVA.
With an aim to empowering people by making valuable technology accessible, and with a belief that with empowerment comes responsibility, LAVA urges everyone as responsible citizens, we must validate the message before forwarding.
For its communication pieces, Lava has attempted to pick topics that may have a positive impact on the audience and in turn, benefit the nation. #ProudlyIndian has been the central theme for Lava’s campaigns and the team at 82.5 Communications wanted to retain the same this year, with the future hope of creating a tradition for every Republic Day.
The brief given to the agency was to make a brand film with a social message specific to the brand’s consumers and society.
The specific task with LAVA Republic Day campaign was to talk about a simple and small social issue which in turn could trigger a larger behavioural change; a message equipped to hit hard and create real impact.
The team oscillated between many ideas such as women empowerment, stories of unsung heroes, environment safety, etc. Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman, and CCO, 82.5 Communications added, “But we narrowed down on something that could inspire an immediate call to action. Hence, we addressed the detrimental effects of fake forwards and created awareness among the minds of consumers”.
Creative Thought process
“The issue of fake forwards and its ugly fallout has been on our minds, for a while now. As concerned citizens we’ve kept track of all the different occasions such as the elections, the Kerala floods, multiple cases of mob lynching around the country and so on when fake forwards have done the rounds,” said Chattopadhyay.
The creative team often wondered if they could use creativity and the reach of advertising, to find a solution. Till they arrived at perhaps the simplest solution. Chattopadhyay briefed, “What if we could get every individual to always go back to the sender and check the authenticity of a forward! ‘Backwards before going forward’ – that’s the behavior change that we want in people. This simple shift in attitude might be enough to stem the flow of disinformation”.
As a part of its #ProudlyIndian communication strategy, the company has been contemplating upon which social issue to target. Rajit highlighted, “We wanted to zero down on something which not just impacts the society but is also relevant for us to talk about. That is when we stumbled upon a piece of news from Assam, wherein two tourists were lynched by the mob, and eventually, we decided to centre the campaign around fake forwards”.
The campaign has been planned in three phases and it is in the middle of the impact phase right now. It should be running for two more weeks.
The social media campaign will be bolstered with a WhatsApp promotion program; as the real behavior change has to happen while using the chatting apps.
Conceptualization & Execution
To facilitate the act of going back to the sender of a dubious forward, the brand & agency decided to use a rarely used emoji – the Back Arrow. When in doubt about the truth of any forward, all they wanted people to do is to send the Back Arrow to the sender and wait till the sender can provide authentic information about the forward.
To bring to life the idea in a digital film, the agency scripted out a scenario of a fake forward about suspected child-lifters, leading to a mob lynching scenario (inspired by the tragic KarbiAnglong mob violence case and several similar cases across India).
In this volatile setting, they introduced the Back Arrow emoji for the first time, in a striking, larger than life manner. The film goes on to demonstrate how the usage of the Back Arrow by different members of the mob to go back to verify the truth of the forward could have prevented the unfortunate event from unfolding.
“The script resonated well with everyone at LAVA, and once it was approved, we approached BauddhayanMukherji (‘Buddy’) of Little Lamb Films to direct it. Buddy immediately resonated with the idea and worked with equal passion to bring the film to life,” said Chattopadhyay.
To depict the authenticity of the scenario, he worked mostly with non-actors in this film. The film was shot in 1 day in a village near Virar. An able soundtrack that added to the drama and emotions of the film was scored by music director Raja Narayan Deb.
Media mix & Promotion Plans
As of now, campaign promotions are primarily digitally led. The same is also being supplemented with the engagement led surround campaigns across Social media.
The film was uploaded on LAVA’s digital and social media handles, just prior to Republic Day with #SendItBack. According to the company, within 24 hours, #SendItBack became the second most-trending hashtag on Twitter. The film has seen viewership figures of over 3 million on both Facebook and YouTube.
Consumers have evolved over time. They expect brands to stand for more than just selling their product. Rajit informed here, “Over the last year or so, we have seen some leading brands rising up to this expectation by taking a stance on racial injustice and bullying.”
Being a brand claiming to have imbibed the value of Indianness, LAVA felt that it should take a stance on a social cause that is both relevant to the industry and also helps in the progress of the country.