People Are Both Annoyed And Confused By Facebook’s Strange Dr. Neha Ads

If you’re in India, it’s hard to escape Dr. Neha Thomas at the moment. She’s on TV screens and Facebook videos, running around, eating panipuri, working at a hospital, partying, and telling everyone who’d listen that she’s unlike any other Neha Thomas they’ve seen before.

Neha Thomas isn’t just a particularly self-absorbed individual who’s spent a fortune in buying airtime — she’s the central character in Facebook’s new “Live What you love campaign.” The one minute long advert shows a young Neha going about her daily life, while telling the camera about her interests. So Neha tells people she’s a feminist, donates blood, and is obsessed with sneakers.

 

But the ad — which feels like a Facebook profile come to life — appears to have bewildered some of its audience. For starters, people couldn’t figure out what the ad really was for, until the Facebook logo appears at the very end. To confuse people further, the ad focusses on Neha’s Nike sneakers, leading some people to wonder if it was a Nike ad.

Other people simply thought the ad wasn’t that great.

People looked at logical inconsistencies too. Doctors wondered how Neha, who’s supposedly a doctor, is able to do all the things she claims she does, given the hectic schedules doctors have.

Other people wondered what the purpose of the ad really was. Facebook has never run a TV campaign in India, but still has managed to get millions of users. But user growth is slowing for the company globally, and usage is declining, particularly among teens and young adults. A report suggested that as many as 7 lakh UK users aged between 18-24 are expected to leave Facebook this year. People wondered if the ad was designed to get young people back on Facebook.

Some other concerns were more serious. Some users thought Facebook was pandering to its audience with its feminism angle to earn some easy brownie points.

facebook neha thomas ad

And at the other end of the spectrum were people who thought the video was promoting feminism and harming India’s traditional values system.

In these politically charged times, it’s not hard to piss people off on both sides of an issue, and Facebook has gone ahead and done exactly that. But more than the content of the ad, what possibly works against the campaign is how often it’s bombarded at users — it seems to be playing on every TV channel, and the video that Facebook is promoting on Facebook has 24 million views. It’s this ubiquity that had also led people to become fed up of the Trivago man. And much like the Trivago guy, Dr. Neha Thomas has the pomposity and smugness that can be off-putting — we get that you donate blood and are a feminist, but there’s no need to shove it in people’s faces 24 hours a day.

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