The Paradox of Facebook’s New Ad Campaign

October 4th, 2012 by Rob Brown

Facebook has launched a multi channel, multi message communications campaign today, presumably in response to the poor share performance since the IPO in May.

In the US users can now pay to show people their holiday snaps with the introduction of ‘promoted posts’ for individual users.

Another part of the campaign features the announcement that Facebook has passed the billion user mark, a good PR hook if ever I saw one. However Facebook’s real PR issue is one of trust. To address that they have turned to advertising with a classic commercial; Facebook’s first-ever, agency created ad. “The Things That Connect Us” is a beautifully shot 90 second emotive film that compares Facebook to doorbells, airplanes, bridges, dancefloors but most of all chairs.

What I find amazing about the film is that it uses the outmoded idea that if you draw parallels with trusted concepts and ideas, then you can imbue a brand with qualities that it might not possess. It is essentially using an advert to ‘spin’. The arrival of social networks like Facebook has heralded an era when we are no longer persuaded by this kind of commercial. Paradoxically Facebook is communicating using a method that it has helped to undermine.

The choice of chairs as an emblem is also open to question since recent reports that show that too much time spent sitting could be deadly.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

5 Responses to “The Paradox of Facebook’s New Ad Campaign”

  1. Chris Rowan Says:

    Outmoded in developed markets like the US and Europe; are they targeting emerging and more naive markets?

  2. Paul Says:

    Maybe Facebook is amongst the first of the social networks to realise that the on-line world is (or will) reach a point where it has to fall back on the real world to get its message accross. After all we live in a real world not a virtual one. If the Idea is so outmoded how come
    a- its still in use
    b- Facebook feel it will help them

    Maybe people are more persuaded by this kind of commercial than the online “gurus” would like us to believe? has social media actually not undermined old school communications quite as much as its proponents would like to believe?

    To be honest I dont see any problem with a symbiotic relationship of old & new media and communication methods. Indeed I believe its necessary otherwise you are not maximising the audience for your message. Who without internet access will read this page? On Line and delivered via multiple media streams surely it would reach many more people and carry much more weight.

  3. Gez Daring Says:

    The trust issue is picked up on in this parody

  4. Rob Brown Says:

    Paul, I don’t think that there is a distinction between the on-line world and the “real” world. What is outmoded here is the idea that you can draw a fanciful parallel and persuade people that something is true when it patently isn’t. I don’t say old and new media can’t co-exist in fact I believe very strongly in the idea that they do and will continue to do so. I’m just calling bullshit on this type of commercial.

    P.S. No-one involved in this blog would describe themselves as a guru!

  5. Oana Stefancu Says:

    I am a PR and Communication student and I know how important is social media today. We use it as a platform to promote ourselves as professionals, among others from our industry and as individuals, among our friends…or I should probably use the word ‘acquaintances’ as the hundreds of friends and followers we have on social media are not always our friends.

    Social media does not depict people for who they are but for who they want to be. We tend to post pictures, statuses, comments in order to be have people clicking the ‘like’, ‘retweet’, or ‘comment’ buttons…and this makes us ‘cool’. As a consequence we keep having that online behaviour that makes as ‘cool’…even if it’s not who we really are.

    Fortunately, today, social media is not so strongly embedded in our culture so we can reflect upon our actions and realise how influential our online presence is upon us. BUT I wonder…what about the next generations? Users will consider Facebook as ‘normal’, as integrated part of their lifes. In America, Facebook is examining ways to allow children under the age of 13 to use its services. Will those children still be able to distinguish between their online presence and their real persona?

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