Facebook spends around Rs300 crore on Free Basics ad campaign in India

Facebook is estimated to have spent the maximum on print media, in the range of Rs180-200 crore


Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer, Facebook Inc. Photo: Bloomberg
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer, Facebook Inc. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Popular social networking site Facebook Inc. has spent as much as Rs.300 crore on advertising its ongoing Free Basics campaign in the country, according to media buyer estimates, making it the company’s most ambitious campaign in India so far.

The advertisements are part of Facebook’s attempt to make a case for free access to essential Internet services. Facebook claims Free Basics will help those who can’t afford to pay for data, or those who need a little help getting started online. “... it’s open to all people, developers and mobile operators. With 1 billion Indian people not yet connected, banning programs like Free Basics would hurt our country’s most vulnerable people,” says a post on the Facebook website.

The company is estimated to have spent the maximum on print media, in the range of Rs.180-200 crore.

Commenting on its media strategy, a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “We’re aiming to get the facts out to as many people as possible, whether they’re connected today or will be in the future.”

The ad campaign has run into trouble over making “misleading claims” and advertising sector regulator, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), has written to the company after receiving a series of complaints from consumers.

ASCI declined to comment on further developments. “The complaint is under process,” said Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI.

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