Meta is kicking off the first-ever US marketing push for WhatsApp, focusing on the privacy offered by the app’s encryption.
WhatsApp never really caught on in the United States. There are lots of reasons for that: the popularity and network effects of Apple’s iMessage, relatively cheap and now largely nonexistent SMS fees, users’ close connection to their carriers and plenty of old habits and inertia to boot.
WhatsApp was always interested in the US. market, but often seemed to see it as a lower priority than growing in developing markets around the world.
Now, WhatsApp is ready to make a real push in the US — and it’s making its case based on privacy, reads a new report from The Verge. WhatsApp’s first-ever stateside marketing campaign starts this weekend, with a commercial set to air during the NFL playoffs on Sunday.
The commercial, called “Doubt Delivered,” harps on the lack of security in SMS and the privacy that comes with WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. Imagine if the mailman opened your letters, the ad says; that’s what it’s like to use SMS.
“Our mission is very much to connect the world privately through end-to-end encryption,” WhatsApp head of marketing Eshan Ponnadurai said. “We wanted to do it in a lighthearted and funny way, but educate, as opposed to just selling WhatsApp.”
“We see a real opportunity to educate US consumers and have them appreciate the need for messaging privately,” Ponnadurai explained.
WhatsApp said its more than 2 billion users in 180 countries globally send over 100 billion messages per day, all protected by end-to-end encryption, adding that its users are given the option of backing up their chat histories, also with end-to-end encryption.
“We just see a category need here,” Ponnadurai said. “WhatsApp is almost the default messaging service for the rest of the world. How do we create awareness of the need?”
Head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart added in a statement: “It’s exciting to introduce WhatsApp to the US and share the benefits of using an end-to-end encrypted messaging service. 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 US understand message privacy and the value of encryption in keeping conversations private.”