Is Wieden+Kennedy’s new film for Facebook the agency’s meisterwerk?

Well it’s certainly aiming high. Facebook, it says, is a way of bringing people together, something to hang on to in a tough world and an even more threatening universe (cut to threatening universe, which you don’t often see in ads). One of the “things that connect us.”

Films/ads (which is it?) always take the risk of falling flat on their face when they aim for the stars and when this one starts with chairs you do rather think, here they go. But Wieden+Kennedy Portland is becoming rather good at this: putting some gas in the tank of Detroit for Chrysler with Eminem and Clint Eastwood, signing up ‘moms’ for Procter & Gamble’s Olympics sponsorship and exploring the rust belt in the USA for Levi’s.

Actually the latter is so gloomy it backfires a bit but Levi’s then marketing director Rebecca Van Dyck was obviously pleased enough with it to sign W+K as Facebook’s first ad agency.

The film is surprisingly American though, referring to ‘this great nation’ as one of the things that ties people together, but that only works if you’re American of course. Many other people around the world (the Middle East for example) are united only in their disapproval of the land of the free.

Will it do the job for Facebook? Well it depends what the job is. It obviously won’t mollify those people who bought shares in Facebook’s IPO and now find they’ve lost half their money. It doesn’t deal with privacy issues. But it does make a pretty good case for social media, they are a way of connecting people on, more or less, their own terms. And with all the talk of money and Facebook that’s not a bad message to send out as you celebrate your billionth user (it’s probably a billion and five by now).

It’s not bad for W+K either. If it wants to show it can make a film for anyone, not necessarily an ad for advertisers, it’s succeeded.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

4 comments

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    As I say on today’s AdScam, when you are an old fart like me, you can remember that Oracle ran an ad in the 1998 Super bowl about the “Red Chair of Knowledge.” The first frame of the W+K “Epic” is a direct lift. Then throughout we see lots and lots of “Red Chairs” Back in 1998, No one knew what the fuck they were talking about, and it ended up being acknowledged as one of the wankiest Super Bowl ads ever (And there have been many over the years.) Chairs indeed… Rich fucktards like Zuckernozzle and Ninja Ellison have billions to burn… Bit surprised at W+K though. After the latest Old Spice and the Velveeta shit with the lusty “smithy” ravishing housewives with his “Iron Skillet” you have to wonder what’s up. I trust Neil and the lads in the East End will avoid the contagion. Chairs indeed… Just goes to show, there’s nothing new under the sun… More gory details on AdScam, Friday, along with Loverrrlllly Kate moss.
    Cheers/George “AdScam” Parker

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    As you say George. Can’t remember that one myself. Do agree though that a bit of Kate goes a long way.

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    w+k are astonishingly good at this sort of thing when the bullseye is america but seen from pretty much anywhere else on the planet i’m afraid both this and ‘go forth’ miss the mark. and i say that as one of a dwindling band of europeans who still waves the flag for uncle sam. it’s a shame because both levis and fb are widely admired and much loved world brands but both pieces of work are just too introverted to appeal or engage to many outside the us. that’s not to say it can’t be done. ‘after hours athlete’ for example pulls it off by somehow managing to capture something universal as does w+k’s own ‘whatever’s comfortable’. but how does the new guinness spot look to americans i wonder… ?

    http://dontgomestarted.com/2012/10/04/rose-tinted-spectacles-2/

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    You talk about the ad being surprisingly American and referring to “this great nation”, yet this is not the case at all. Perhaps you are just seeing what you wish. If you take another look you will find that the ad says “A great nation… A great nation is something people build so that they can have a place where they belong”. In addition, those are not even American flags flying all over that crowd scene. I must say that I am honestly a bit baffled as to how you arrived at the conclusion that this scene was overly American. Perhaps it is your own viewpoint or expectations and not the ad that has overwhelmingly American sentiments.