Over the years, data privacy has held steady as a hot issue among tech debates that come and go. In its first U.S. campaign, the Meta- formerly-known-as-Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp tackles the issue of privacy by telling viewers they may be texting unsafely.
The ad, directed by “The Queen of Versailles” and “Generation Wealth” filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, depicts a nosy mailman who just can’t resist tearing into envelopes and packages before they make it to their intended recipients. As he hands off pieces of mail with letters, forms and bills spilling out of them, each person is shocked that their belongings have been opened already.
“This has all of my information on it,” says an exacerbated young woman. “I know. I saw,” responds the mailman, as if that’s normal.
He asks if privacy is important and the unanimous response is a resounding yes. According to the spot, 5.5 billion unencrypted texts are sent every day and each one is as open as this mailman’s letters.
In its default setting, WhatsApp offers end-to-end message encryption so that anything from LOL to SSN sent over text isn’t available for prying eyes. The app is already extremely popular in other countries—it’s the top communications app globally—but it hasn’t landed as strongly in the American market.
"It’s exciting to introduce WhatsApp to the U.S. and share the benefits of using an end-to-end encrypted messaging service,” said Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, in a statement. “WhatsApp secures your conversations with end-to-end encryption, which means that not even WhatsApp can see your messages. With billions of unencrypted texts still being sent in the country every day, we think it’s important that people in the U.S. understand message privacy and the value of encryption in keeping conversations private."
The new campaign arrives on the heels of a tumultuous 2021 for WhatsApp parent Meta. At the time of its rebrand from Facebook, the company had been mired in negative press around the whistleblower scandal and data breaches, leading observers to question whether a new name could help distance it from that rocky history. The WhatsApp interface previously included references to Facebook, but as with other former Facebook properties, the messaging platform now displays “WhatsApp from Meta.”
The ad will premiere this Sunday during the AFC championship game and continue to run on social, digital video, OOH and broadcast TV channels across the country.