WhatsApp's New Ad Resembles Pages Torn Out of Our Past Year

If our lives were more 'This Is Us' and less 'The Leftovers'

AlmapBBDO and BBDO Berlin join forces to give us "Family Diary," created for WhatsApp, to remind us of the many ways we used the Facebook-owned app over the course of 2020.

We're moved through the story of a dispersed family in varying states of separation, even as life goes on. There are the photos of cats, the moments of solitude, that classic "She's going into labor!" moment … and anxious times of transit, when you realize you're not going anywhere, and need to shoot off a voice message because everything is moving too fast to lower your head.

Politics are omitted, and Covid is never mentioned by name. 

Family Diary

"We wanted 'A Family Diary' to provide a reflection and snapshot of one family's journey through the year through the lens of WhatsApp messages, and all the moments they were able to share together, despite being apart—an experience which mirrors so many of our own experiences in 2020," says Eshan Ponnadurai, WhatsApp's director of brand and consumer marketing.

It's true that the ad feels like a reflection of many kinds of missives we've shared ourselves, all to make isolation feel less isolating. And seeing the way this connected community is divided not only by varied lockdowns but also space and time (the ad will run in the U.K., U.S. and Brazil), we're reminded that even if we can't physically be together, the world has gotten smaller around us.

A little over halfway through, there is a moment of anxiety, a shared taking of breath. It's followed by the rising din of many voices mixed together, which brings to mind the moments when our WhatsApp groups suddenly explode all at once, and we can barely keep up.

"What kept you close is what got you through," the ad concludes, and we nodded to that, ceding the point, until we realized the phrase was designed to open to the packshot (can you still call it that if it's a service?): "WhatsApp from Facebook." 

Erg. Not quite what we were thinking, but OK, clearly we'd all prefer a "free" service that sells our data over paying long-distance bills and buying phone cards, like in olden times.

"WhatsApp was created as a private messaging service designed to connect people with their friends and families. We play a meaningful role in ensuring people are able to create and nurture the deep connections and relationships in their lives that really help them move forward," says Ponnadurai. 

"That role was further amplified this year beyond what we could have ever imagined, as we have all been separated from our loved ones. That connection for billions of people around the world meant that they could share the highs, lows, mundane and extraordinary moments with those closest to them—despite not being together in person."


Agencies: AlmapBBDO and BBDO Berlin 
Client: WhatsApp 

BBDO Berlin 
CCO: Till Diestel 
Creative Director: Erick Barrios Hernández, Wolfgang Warzilek 
Copywriter: Florestan Roesemann, Dara Luise Kleyer 
Art Director: Deepanjali Singh 
Account: Mark Andree, Kadia Sow  
Executive Producer: Alexander Geier 

CCO: Luiz Sanches 
Creative Director: Pedro Corbett  
Art Director: André de Aquino Vervloet 
Copywriter: Bruno Bizuti 

Production Company: Anorak Film GmbH, Berlin 
Executive Producer: Catherine Baikousis 
Director: Joanna Nordahl 
DoP: Tim Lorentzén 
Producer: Yan Schoenefeld 
Editor: Emma Backman 
Service Production: Romance Films

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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