Rebooting Facebook: New ad woos young audience weighing up other platforms

At over 250 million, India is the country with the highest number of users for Facebook. While the popularity of the social networking giant may only rise further in India as internet and smartphone penetration grows in the country, a new ad campaign suggests the company is keen on wooing a young audience that may be weighing up other platforms as means of expression.

Facebook has aired two ads as part of the campaign titled “Live what you love”, each a minute long. One of the ads feature a character called Sunny Brar, a bike-loving youth who has an auto repairs shop as well as a “start-up” cafe that brings food and books together. In the other, a doctor, Neha Thomas, is similarly seen talking about herself to suggest how different labels sit comfortably with a generation (read millennials) that is happy to be footloose and multi-taskers at the same time. Both ads are a whirl of activities involving the characters to convey the theme of living what they love to do.

According to the company, its large community of users in India engage with the platform to connect with people and things that matter to them the most. “Through this campaign, we are encouraging our users in India to discover the various ways in which Facebook can help them in the pursuit of their interests, by connecting them to like-minded people, getting more information, and providing a space where they can explore. This integrated campaign highlights the many layers and richness of people pursuing their passions all over India,” says a spokesperson.

The campaign is spread across channels including outdoor, TV, print, online, and cinema. Despite India having the largest user base for Facebook, the country has not generated revenues proportionately by comparison to some other nations. Asked whether a campaign such as this would help address this challenge, the spokesperson says that Facebook constantly aims to help users by giving them opportunities for self-enrichment by connecting them to like-minded people, by surfacing the latest updates and information about their interests, or by providing a platform where they can explore.

“Through this campaign, we want to share with our wider community, especially those that are new to the internet, how to use Facebook in meaningful ways to do things that matter to them.”

For the campaign, Facebook partnered with Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam to find out the commonalities in which people are using Facebook and how it gives them the opportunity to explore interests. Identifying knowledge as a constant enabler, the campaign is built on the cultural truth that there is an innate drive for personal growth and development.

Anil S Nair, CEO and managing partner of L&K Saatchi & Saatchi India, opines that it is a good campaign but there are question marks over who Facebook is addressing. “If they are coming from an idea of connecting with millennials, who are not choosing to be on the platform, the issue is not about finding your kind, but much deeper. It is the very format, and the fact that you will find your kind and other kinds also. That is the challenge,” he adds.

Various studies and reports have suggested Facebook is losing a younger cohort to the photo-sharing app Instagram, which it incidentally owns as well. The disengagement of younger people on Facebook, therefore, raises questions over the appeal of its format, which need not be resolved by an ad campaign alone.

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