WhatsApp Marketing: How Top Brands Are Leveraging the World‘s Biggest Messaging App

In 2024, WhatsApp solidified its position as the world‘s most popular mobile messaging app, with over 3 billion monthly active users across 180 countries.^1 That‘s more than a third of the global population actively using the app to connect with friends, family, and increasingly, businesses.

WhatsApp‘s massive reach and engagement present a huge opportunity for brands looking to connect with customers on a more personal level. According to WhatsApp, over 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day, and 74% of users say they are more likely to do business with a company they can message.^2

The key is using WhatsApp in a way that feels authentic, helpful, and valuable to users, not spammy or intrusive. Here are six brands that have nailed their WhatsApp marketing strategies and what we can learn from them.

1. Adidas Thailand‘s "Rent-A-Pred" Campaign

To launch its Predator20 Mutator football shoes, Adidas Thailand created a brilliantly engaging WhatsApp campaign called "Rent-A-Pred." The concept: Amateur football teams could message a dedicated WhatsApp number to convince Adidas why they deserved to have a pro footballer join their next game.

Over 1,100 teams participated, submitting photos, videos, and passionate pleas via WhatsApp.^3 The winning team got the ultimate surprise when Thai football star Chanathip Songkrasin showed up at their game kitted out in Predator20 Mutators and proceeded to lead them to victory.

By gamifying the product launch and facilitating such a unique fan experience, Adidas earned incredible brand love and loyalty. The campaign generated over 40 million media impressions and lifted Predator20 Mutator sales by 153% in Thailand.^4

2. Hellmann‘s "WhatsCook" Recipe Service

Unilever‘s Hellmann‘s mayonnaise brand showed how useful WhatsApp could be for solving real consumer problems with its "WhatsCook" service in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The idea: Message WhatsCook on WhatsApp with a picture of the ingredients you have in your fridge, and get recipes from real chefs on how to cook a meal with them. Hellmann‘s had a team of chefs on standby to analyze the images and respond with personalized, mayonnaise-centric recipe ideas within minutes.

Over the campaign period, 13,000 people used the service, spending an average of 65 minutes interacting with the chefs on WhatsApp.^5 By responding to a common consumer pain point (figuring out what to cook) in such a helpful, engaging way, Hellmann‘s positioned itself as a go-to culinary resource and drove incredible brand affinity.

3. KLM Airlines‘ WhatsApp Customer Service

Dutch airline KLM was one of the first major brands to use WhatsApp for customer service when it launched its verified business account in 2017. Passengers can use WhatsApp to receive flight confirmations, boarding passes, check-in reminders, and flight status updates.

But the real value is in the personal support. Travelers can ask KLM agents anything they need help with before, during or after their flight, just like they would a friend – from seat assignments to lost luggage tracking to restaurant recommendations in their destination.

KLM‘s WhatsApp support handles over 1.7 million messages per year, with a 95% customer satisfaction rating.^6 By being readily available in their customers‘ preferred messaging app and solving problems quickly and personally, KLM has set a new standard for convenient, humanized airline service.

4. Netflix‘s "Drive to Survive" F1 Updates

For the launch of season 3 of its hit Formula 1 documentary series "Drive to Survive," Netflix created a unique WhatsApp experience that made subscribers feel like F1 insiders.

Upon signing up on a dedicated microsite, fans received regular WhatsApp messages that looked like they came directly from F1‘s biggest stars like Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. The messages included memes, jokes, race predictions, behind-the-scenes photos and videos that were timed to sync with key moments in the real F1 season.

The content was localized based on users‘ favorite drivers and teams and updated dynamically based on real race results. GIFs and reactions to major events like crashes were shared just minutes after they happened on the track.

The result was a deeply immersive, personalized experience that blurred the lines between the show and reality. 10.5% of Netflix‘s "Drive to Survive" viewers signed up for the WhatsApp program, which achieved stellar engagement rates of 45% CTR, 34% share rate, and 99% retention.^7

5. WWF Germany‘s Self-Destructing Species Campaign

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Germany found a powerful way to use WhatsApp‘s ephemerality to drive home its conservation message. In partnership with agency Kolle Rebbe, it launched a chatbot called "WWF Fandoo" that messaged users facts, images and videos about endangered species that disappeared shortly after being viewed.

The metaphorical tie between the self-destructing messages and animals on the brink of extinction was crystal clear. The time sensitivity created a sense of urgency while the intimate, one-on-one delivery made each animal‘s plight feel deeply personal.

The campaign reached 470,000 people, generated 44,000 shares, and increased donations to WWF Germany.[^8] It‘s a powerful reminder that WhatsApp marketing doesn‘t have to be about selling – it can be an incredible tool for raising awareness and inspiring action around important causes.

[^8]: Ad Age. "WWF Fandoo | 2021 Experiential Awards."

6. Absolut‘s Private Party Portal

To promote its limited edition Absolut Comeback bottle series, Absolut Vodka used WhatsApp to grant VIP access to exclusive events and content. Fans could message a special WhatsApp number shown in Absolut‘s social media ads to try to join the inner circle called "Comebackers."

Those accepted (based on a brief chat with a bot) were added to a private WhatsApp group where they received first dibs on event tickets, limited merch drops, music downloads, and more perks. They could also invite a certain number of friends to join, gamifying the spread of access.

The sense of exclusivity and cool factor drove massive organic reach – at its peak, the Comebackers group had over 50,000 members.^9 By creating a VIP community and rewarding its most passionate fans, Absolut achieved enviable engagement and cemented its status as a boundary-pushing brand.

These examples illustrate a few key principles for effective WhatsApp marketing:

  1. Make it interactive and personal. Use WhatsApp‘s conversational interface to create one-on-one dialogues that feel natural and tailored to each user.

  2. Provide genuine utility. Think about how you can use WhatsApp to help solve your customers‘ problems or improve their experience with your brand in a convenient way.

  3. Offer exclusive access and experiences. WhatsApp is a great place to reward your superfans with insider content, community, and special perks they can‘t get anywhere else.

  4. Get creative with formats and timeliness. From self-destructing messages to real-time updates synced with offline events, WhatsApp enables all kinds of innovative multimedia storytelling.

  5. Respect user preferences and privacy. Make sure you have clear opt-ins, honor messaging preferences, and protect users‘ personal data in compliance with WhatsApp‘s policies and local regulations.

Looking ahead, WhatsApp is poised to become an even bigger platform for customer engagement and commerce. Its forthcoming integration with Facebook and Instagram will enable more seamless cross-platform campaigns, while new features like WhatsApp Pay, ephemeral messages and multi-device support will expand the possibilities for transactions and conversations.^10

As messaging becomes the default way people want to interact with brands, WhatsApp has a key advantage with its unparalleled global reach and engagement, especially in mobile-first markets. The question is no longer if brands should be on WhatsApp, but how they can use it most effectively to build meaningful connections and business results.

The brands that win on WhatsApp will be those that find creative ways to add tangible value for their customers through personal, instant, frictionless conversations – at scale. The human touch at the heart of WhatsApp is what will make all the difference.