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    How Tinder India is putting consent conversations at the heart of its playbook

    The Drum speaks to the Tinder India team to find out more about the evolution of consent on the platform, the creative journey behind its new educational film and why consent is so important in Tinder’s narrative.

    An extensive survey conducted by Tinder with YouGov showed that almost 8 in 10 Indians have either personally experienced or know somebody who has experienced something uncomfortable while dating or being with someone. It is against this backdrop that the leading dating app has made consent a key part of its communications strategy over the last year.

    Initiatives include the interactive resource centre letstalkconsent.com, launched in partnership with Yuvaa and Pink Legal, and the brand film ‘Closure’ released last year to showcase the importance of enabling conversations on consent.

    Most recently, Tinder has launched an 8-minute long film ‘We need to talk’, which seeks to explore the nuances of consent in interpersonal relationships among young Indian adults. The film, directed by Sonam Nair and conceptualized in collaboration with The Script Room, is an interesting and much-needed interplay of the complex issues around consent in new-age relationships.

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    Why consent is such a big deal for Tinder

    Taru Kapoor, general manager, Tinder & Match Group, India, tells The Drum: “As the largest – and first in the category – dating app, Tinder intends to be a strong ally in promoting the need to have an open, honest and compassionate conversation around consent.”

    With initiatives like ‘Let’s talk consent’, the brand aims to give young adults access to appropriate information and a safe space to have a healthy discourse on the subject, she adds.

    The findings from the research with YouGov reaffirmed the brand’s belief that while the awareness around the metaphors for warning signs and good behavior in a relationship are present among young adults, putting them into practice is where they fumble a lot, and for various reasons.

    The just-launched film, shares Kapoor, hopes to help amplify conversations around this subject through the personal and lived experiences of the characters. The narrative has been pinned around creating safe spaces for conversations on boundaries and mutual respect, which are not often discussed in our society, adds Kapoor.

    Tinder launched ‘Let’s talk consent’ last year along with the resource center with the idea to “simplify the meaning of consent, navigating consent across stages of a relationship, how to ask and give consent as well as the nuance of withdrawing consent,” says Kapoor.

    Taking the conversation forward, the brand is now launching a first-of-its-kind consent and safe dating curriculum in partnership with Yuvaa, which will be available online and in-person in select universities. According to Kapoor, “the idea is to give young adults access to appropriate information and a safe space to have a healthy discourse on the subject.”

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    The film and the creative brief for a tricky issue

    Talking about the recent film, Ayyappan Raj of The Script Room says, “the brand wanted to build on the work that they started last year and continue the conversation in an empathetic and approachable manner.” The idea was simple, he adds: “to acknowledge the messy parts of dating and gray areas of consent and encourage honest communication towards understanding consent”.

    Shares Sonam Nair, the director of the film in a chat with The Drum: “We had to ensure that the film is relatable and accessible to a large section of the audience, especially the youth of India.” Thus, the casting was designed to find ‘characters’ more than ‘actors’. Even the look and feel were accessible, not aspirational so that whoever sees it can see their own friends’ groups in it, she adds.

    Tinder’s belief in long-form storytelling vs the 30-sec ad

    With its 8-minute length, the construct for the creative narrative was deliberately kept less as an ad and more as a piece of content. 

    Sonam Nair, who has never made ads before and whose usually repertoire spans feature films and OTT series, kept the approach to every department as if this was a series or feature. It was not very different from making narrative fiction because “I never thought of this as an ad, but like a film”, she adds.

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    About the difference in cracking the idea and fleshing it out, Raj feels there was not much of a difference. It’s the same process of finding the suitable pitch for the brand, getting a grip on the genre, and then finding the right insights, he says. Since the topic was serious and has multiple perspectives/dimensions, long-form storytelling allowed the brand to build character arcs, nuance the situations and achieve a certain level of depth that was required, he adds. 

    Taking the universal issue of consent global

    While consent is a complex narrative and presents unique challenges in different cultures, many elements are seen as common denominators. And this is arguably why Tinder has also now taken the conversation around consent to markets like Japan and Singapore.

    Earlier this year, the Japan team launched their version of ‘Let’s talk consent’ as an online site that offers basic information on the concept of mutual consent in a relationship, shares Aahana Dhar, director of communications at Tinder India. The content was localized in partnership with Mimosas – an NGO run by two young women with the idea of spreading awareness around consent and was designed by Tomowaka, a very popular Japanese illustrator. Adds Dhar: “This site provides young adults an opportunity to think about how to build trust with each other and how to communicate with respect in a relationship.”

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    Singapore is another market where Tinder is launching School of Swipe, its first-ever online crash course in online dating. Dhar explains: “Built as an easily accessible mobile-first wingmate, the site will host how-to tips to rock a good conversation, make a real-life connection and safely explore potential connections as well as have resources on the topic of consent.”

    Even though Tinder is built on mutual consent, since both parties have to swipe right to be able to talk to each other, it remains a ‘touchy’ issue. With a large majority of young adults in India having little or no confidence in navigating consent and finding it hard to have conversations on the subject, for Tinder to flourish this is one conversation it simply cannot ignore.

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