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Decoding what Truecaller's #ItsNotOk campaign is all about

It is a classic example of purpose-driven marketing.

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NEW DELHI: Buzz goes the phone and your heart lurches. The device that was once your friend, ally, confidant, in front of which you used to grin and preen, scares you now. You're scared to pick it up, to read the passive-aggressive, even threatening messages from someone who wants to 'start off as friends'; you're scared that you'll be accosted by unsolicited vulgar 'pics' from an unwanted 'admirer'.

Therefore, Truecaller, one of the most popular and successful call detection apps in India, took it upon itself to stand against this harassment. The service is prompting women to block, report, and speak up against the culprits because #ItsNotOk. An initiative that started four years ago, found its place on the front pages of many leading newspapers in India, on big hoardings across the country, and also in TVCs. The sole aim is not to promote the brand but the purpose of empowering women to speak against harassment. The campaign is now going viral on social media. 

A classic purpose-driven communication, the#ItsNotOk ads have been created by Thinkstr and bring back the long-lost long-form copies to print advertising. Headlined with hard-hitting captions and grave portraits of women, the ads instantly demand attention. The copy text shares distressing data around women facing harassment on calls and messages and also guides the reader with women helpline numbers. A subtle brand pitch is made asking women to block the harasser using the Truecaller app. The outdoor counterpart also runs on a similar colour scheme and messaging.

The brand has also launched four TVCs to promote the campaign. Women are shown discussing the kind of messages and calls that they get and are followed by simple text narratives of how Truecaller is helping the women out in such cases. 

What the brand says

In a statement, Truecaller shared that it’s their attempt to stand against the harassment women face on a day-to-day basis and act as the first line of defence. 

“#ItsNotOk is a cause very close to our hearts. Being a brand and an app that women use to safeguard themselves from this menace, we felt we are responsible to raise more awareness and action around this. In India, as per our study seven out of ten women have taken some action against harassers but in the list of actions they told us, reporting to law enforcement or authorities was a dismal 12 per cent only. Our campaign’s sole objective is to get more women to report such harassment to the right authorities without any fear. That is the only way this will stop, not with the chalta hai or ye to hota hi hai attitude,” it said. 

Truecaller director of marketing Manan Shah said since the campaign was rolled out four years ago, the brand has witnessed a growing support from all quarters of the society for its stance against harassment. “While we have seen some increase in the number of women reporting such crimes to the authorities over the last few years, we have a lot of ground to cover. This edition of the campaign is our bold effort to bring this initiative to the masses through TV and other traditional media. This is also the first time in the history of Truecaller that we are doing newspaper ads and outdoor advertising.” 

The relevance of the campaign

India has long been viewed as one of the most unsafe countries for women by several international research organisations. The socio-cultural fabric, however, stops women from speaking against any form of harassment and they are often dismissed when they do. Any brand taking a stand like this and taking the discussion to the public promotes a healthy discussion in the society. It has the power to reshape societal norms and culture.

It has been outlined several times that people rely on brands that have a purpose to them. Truecaller, with the campaign, is showing a side to its features that people know of but underplay. So, it is a smart attempt on the brand’s part to popularise itself more as a solution-based platform and not just a service provider. 

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