Facebook’s Holi vs. OnePlus’s Diwali

Facebook India’s latest campaign, by Dentsu Taproot, involves an Indian festival that is widely canceled due to coronavirus – Holi.

The narrative thread goes like this:
– Guy in Romania.
– Missing Holi back home.
– His friends reach out to friends in Romania (non-Indians), through Facebook, obviously.
– They help this guy celebrate Holi in Romania.

Now, the vastly interesting part is when I offer another narrative thread:
– Guy in Amsterdam.
– Missing Diwali back home.
– His sister reaches out to non-Indian locals in Amsterdam through an online community.
– They help him celebrate Diwali in Amsterdam.

This is from a 2018 web film by OnePlus made by Happy mcgarrybowen.

What was that online community? The OnePlus community, of course!

In fact, one conversation in that film goes,
Brother: “Listen, just check if someone is coming to Amsterdam, send some laddoos with them please”
Sister: “Eww, no! I’m not posting any ‘Hey is anyone traveling from Delhi to Amsterdam’ kind of messages on Facebook”

Even if you argue that these kinds of scripts are so very common, the points that coincide are too obvious to ignore. Facebook’s ad is shorter and snappier, telling the same story that OnePlus chose to tell in a slightly longer, web-film format. The OnePlus film was a surprisingly viral Diwali video in 2018 and was shared quite extensively (it has over 2.9 million views on YouTube alone). So it’s rather odd that another agency chose to tell the very same story, merely replacing,
– Diwali with Holi
– Amsterdam with Romania and
– OnePlus community with Facebook (both being online tools of connecting people)

The larger problem is that these days, Facebook is not the only platform that can be used in such situations. OnePlus showed the use of a very niche product-specific community that pulled off the same effect. There are so many ways people could organize the same thing, using Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Email, Slack etc.

But in both films, the request to celebrate the Indian festival in a foreign country was not placed in front of complete strangers, but to known people. To find common connections/or second-degree connections in another country is not restricted anymore to Facebook alone. One can pull this off even with strangers through an open post on Twitter.

So, to use that as a USP to sell Facebook seems both quaint and redundant, and not entirely convincing on why only Facebook, for such use-cases.

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