W+K’s epic doesn’t address ‘why Facebook?’

In an earlier comment on Facebook I suggested they should think about getting on the front foot and consider proper marketing for the brand.

Now we have their first attempt via Wieden+Kennedy of Nike fame, a very fine advertising agency.

I’ve been trying to figure out who the real target audience is for this work and the point of it. It is beautifully filmed and crafted to an inch of its life, it looks great. Top marks to W+K for production values.

The proposition is about connecting, which seems to me to be a generic claim of various categories such as mobile phones and other social networks. I was waiting to hear the killer punch line that told me why Facebook is better to or different from other products that claim connectivity. It didn’t happen and I ended up feeling let down because I really wanted to learn more and be a fan.

Within the ‘thinking’ world of advertising the issue of generic claims causes a great deal of head scratching by planners and creatives. It can be done, think Volvo and ‘safety’ or PlayStation and ‘power’ or Ariston and ‘reliability’. However in their seminal book, ‘Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind’, Ries and Trout talk about the need to leverage off an understood, established position either held by another brand or category. This is how DDB approached Avis by writing the line ‘We Try Harder” by leveraging off the known leadership of Hertz.

Facebook’s spot has failed to do this so it ends up a bit ‘so what?’. However after a bit more thought I wonder if the brief was ‘do something that gives confidence to our investors and to opinion formers’, not an unreasonable brief given the bad publicity sorrounding the stock price which won’t go away. On a highbrow TV show in the UK last night (4/10/12) someone referred to the brand as Fleecebook. My recent comment referred to the brand as Fadebook, clearly related to the fall in market cap of the company.

So maybe the spot from W+K isn’t really intended to address the public at large, the target audience is Wall Street and media business scribblers in New York. Another clue might also be the reference to the nation which is blatantly about the USA.

I wonder if we will see this spot this side of the pond? My guess it will require some editing to remove the US emotional content which goes down like a cup of cold sick over here.

Finishing on an upbeat note my opinion is that this step taken by Facebook is net net positive for them; they and W+K now need to get their thinking caps on and move to work that has a tangible benefit that addresses ‘why Facebook?’ and not ‘why connectivity?’

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About Paul Simons

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Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.

One comment

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    After watching the Facebook ad I clicked the anchor bloopers and it was seriously funny — so where’s the engagement in the Facebook ad? Dunno! Unfortunately it looks like a political ad — and we all know how boring they are, best everyone Charles.