Five of WhiteHat Jr’s ads were found to be in violation of guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), for making unsubstantiated claims.

Pulled up for violation WhiteHat Jr withdraws ads on coding for kidsImage for representation
Atom Coding Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - 15:11

WhiteHat Jr, the edtech startup acquired by online tutoring firm Byju’s, has agreed to withdraw five of its ads after they were found to be in violation of guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), for making dubious and unsubstantiated claims. WhiteHat has been in the news for its ads on TV and social media which urge young children to take up programming classes, promising a bright future.  

ASCI secretary general Manisha Kapoor told Economic Times (ET) that ASCI has processed complaints against seven ads of WhiteHat Jr out of which five were found to be in potential violation of the ASCI code, while adding, “The advertiser has also assured us of their cooperation to adhere to the ASCI code going forward.”

The ads, which have been plastered with the pictures of prominent people like Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Apple founder Steve Jobs, have been criticised for suggesting that the knowledge of coding in young children can help them to become startup founders or develop apps. 

Social media users have also pointed out how such ads put pressure on children and parents. The ads featuring Pichai, Gates and Jobs have now reportedly been removed. 

Acknowledging the issue, WhiteHat Jr Founder and CEO Karan Bajaj said in a LinkedIn post, “Feedback on our marketing needing improvement is well-taken. We’ll do better with it.”  He has stated earlier that, “Coding for kids is about the sheer joy of creation, hence I founded WhiteHat Jr.”

Earlier this year in August, the Mumbai-based edtech startup was acquired by edtech unicorn Byju’s in a $300 million deal. Byju’s said that this would integrate the two brands and also help accelerate its US expansion plans. 

"We have reviewed consumer feedback on our marketing campaign and will keep improving our communication. WhiteHat Jr is the first to create the kids coding category at scale worldwide and as such, we're learning our way through the best approach to communicate a new-to-the-world product.  We appreciate the love given by our current students, parents and the strong 11,000+ women-only teacher workforce as the product continues to grow with very strong NPS Scores >60 and renewal rates of 70%+," a WhiteHat Jr spokesperson told TNM.

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