Mumbai-headquartered edutech startup WhiteHat Jr, that was acquired in August this year by online tutoring firm Byju’s, has agreed to withdraw five of its ads after being pulled up by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Aired on TV and social media, the ads urge young children to take up computer programming classes to secure their future.
“ASCI has processed complaints against seven ads of WhiteHat Jr, five of which were in potential violation of the ASCI code,” said Manisha Kapoor, ASCI secretary general. The advertising sector watchdog said WhiteHat Jr had agreed to withdraw the ads. “The advertiser has also assured us of their cooperation to adhere to the ASCI code going forward,” Kapoor said.
The ads faced criticism on social media for suggesting that knowledge of coding enables children as young as six and seven to develop apps that will have the investors lining up.
“Whitehat Jr won’t stop showing you ads until you find a girlfriend, get married, produce kids and get them enrolled in Whitehat Jr,” tweeted Abhishek Asthana, founder of ad agency GingerMonkey. The tweet drew about 2,000 likes and hundreds of comments from irate social media users.
Another tweet that went viral spoke of WhiteHat Jr ads evoking FOMO (fear of missing out) among parents. “There’s something deeply cringeworthy about ads that feed FOMO of Indian parents. Kind of upsetting actually,” tweeted Amod Malviya, cofounder of Udaan, a B2B marketplace.
Acknowledging the issue, Karan Bajaj, founder and CEO WhiteHat Jr wrote in LinkedIn, “Feedback on our marketing needing improvement is well-taken. We’ll do better with it,” Bajaj said. “Coding for kids is about the sheer joy of creation, hence I founded WhiteHat Jr.”
Several social media users have criticised the ads because they put undue pressure on young children and their parents. Some of WhiteHat Jr’s social media ads featured the names of prominent tech personalities such as Bill Gates, Sundar Pichai and Steve Jobs to promote its coding classes. The ads featuring Gates, Jobs and Pichai have now been removed.
Source: Economic TimesCorporate, News