Social media users troll WhiteHat Jr ads for overexposure

Over the past month, a section of social media users has been busy trolling WhiteHat Jr – the education technology startup that was recently acquired by Byju’s in a $300 million all-cash deal – for bombarding users with advertisements across TV and digital platforms.

The constant exposure to advertisements by WhiteHat Jr, which teaches coding to school students online, has turned into a nuisance, they have pointed out in the most creative of ways across social networks, but predominantly on Twitter.

Online users have also gone to the extent of commenting on the social media posts of actor Sonu Sood – one of the celebrities endorsing the platform in its promotional campaigns – asking him to request WhiteHat Jr folks to push fewer ads across media channels.

The 18-month-old WhiteHat Jr’s sale to Byju’s — the fastest large exit in the Indian startup ecosystem — has caught the attention of people with no prior interest in the tech ecosystem even, since its founder and CEO Karan Bajaj had turned into a multimillionaire overnight by keeping up to an estimated 40% of the $300 million acquisition price.

Bajaj said the buyout may have piqued user interest in WhiteHat Jr, which led to the sustained trolling in the weeks that followed.

“Because nothing has changed in our ad strategy in the last month, except that we rolled out TV ads three weeks ago,” he told ET. “We are a cashflow-positive company earning $250 million in annualised revenue. Our ad spend has only grown in proportion to our revenue,” Bajaj added.

Last week, Abhishek Asthana aka @GabbbarSingh tweeted his take on the ad barrage to his 1.3 million followers.

“WhiteHat Jr won’t stop showing you ads until you find a girlfriend, get married, produce kids and get them enrolled in WhiteHat Jr.”

However, he told ET that the frequency of ads is not that big an irritant in the high-involvement category in which WhiteHat Jr operates, and that the ads work from a marketing standpoint.

“Most of the guys expressing irritation at seeing the ads are not parents,” Asthana, the founder of boutique agency Gingermonkey, which specialises in creating ad campaigns for digital platforms, pointed out. “Parents will eventually check the platform out even if they find the ads irritating, as it concerns their child’s future.”

Media planners estimate that WhiteHat Jr may be spending between Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore in advertising on digital media platforms.

Bajaj did not comment on the size of the marketing budget but said over 50% of the current ad spend was going towards advertising on TV.

WhiteHat Jr ads have also been trolled for targeting online users who aren’t parents, their target segment for ads.

“It is not in our interest to not target well but these seem like fringe cases as some people do not fill in their date of birth on social media platforms like Facebook but have listed an interest in technology,” Bajaj said.

In the past, WhiteHat Jr ads have been criticised for using pictures of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Google‘s parent entity Alphabet Inc CEO Sundar Pichai for promotional purposes.

“Those were posters carrying quotes from these people on the love of coding. We used them in the early stages to create awareness about coding as a category for kids. They are not being circulated at all now,” Bajaj explained.

The criticism of its advertising push has not affected business, which has been growing by 50% month-on-month, said Bajaj. It is unlikely to affect its ad strategy in the near future as well.

For now, Bajaj is filing it as just another day at the troll naka.

Social media users troll WhiteHat Jr ads for overexposure Social media users troll WhiteHat Jr ads for overexposure Reviewed by TechCO on 9/21/2020 Rating: 5

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