Facebook recently launched "Airplane," its second-ever TV spot, via Best Agency in the World, (and that's a fact, son!), from Wieden+Kennedy/Portland.
WK’s first effort for FB sold us on the idea that the social network was like a chair. Surprisingly analog (it focused on everything but how users interact with Facebook), it was also really terrible.
Still, creating terrific, big-budget old-school TV commercials is second nature to this top creative shop. Think of such iconic works as “It’s Halftime in America” for Chrysler, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” for Old Spice, and the hundreds of beloved, award-winning spots they have produced for Nike over the years.
Plus, this new commercial promotes “Home,” a highly anticipated new Facebook feature for Android smartphones. Specificity is what was missing in the first spot.
Given all that, this one should have been a home run, or any other sports analogy you’re into.
Um, it’s worse. Really. The first was at least beautiful to look at, if also obtuse and tone-deaf. This one is seriously creepy, chaotic, claustrophobic, and also obtuse and tone-deaf. An alternative title could be “Cats on a Plane!”
The intention, I guess, was to have the FB experience seem so immersive that it comes alive right in front of your eyes!
Yeah -- why not spend a fortune in production to stir up all our fears of being stuck in a flying tin can with a guy who unleashes anarchy and refuses to turn off his effing phone, even when the fiight attendant warns him to do so? (And though it might refer to the Alec Baldwin incident, it’s not at all charming or amusing here.)
A YouTube blurb explains: “A very boring business trip gets a lot less boring, when Facebook Home brings a guy's friends on the journey with him.” It also notes that this guy is “not half as conservative as his khakis might convey.”
My takeaway was that he’s your typical hipster type, with oversized black glasses and a three-day beard -- I never noticed the boring or conservative parts. But I was alarmed that the first thing he did was open the overhead to check on the men squished in there on either side of the aisle. (Both nearly naked, they were supposed to be chillaxing on vacation, see, posting their pictures on FB. But the alarming visual suggested that they were packed into coffins -- yeah, they’re really chillin’!)
Then, with a mere flick, he releases a bunch of drag queens, one of whom rolls down the aisle in the food cart. Ha ha, see, he’s not so boring! The secret life of traveler X is full of naughty secrets! (FB has a terrific history of supporting the LBGT community. This is a wrongheaded way of showing it.)
He then clicks on a photo of his nephew -- the only nine-year-old kid in America who wears a jacket and bow tie (as well as a face full of cake) to his own birthday party.
Okay, I get it. It’s Felliniesque, or something.
The last thing he does-- after being told to shut his phone off -- is “like” a picture with two cats. The feline felons then run over the heads of his fellow passengers.
He’s a Hipster Hoarder who has unloaded his whole messy history in a tiny, crowded public space. Ewww.
It’s like watching “The Birds” in 60-second form.
If they’re trying to reach younguns, it’s the opposite strategy of the one Facebook needs to pursue. Accessibility is not the problem. Au contraire, kids want more control, more privacy, and more exclusivity in their social interactions. That’s why they’re fleeing FB: they’re seeing the downside of documenting every second of their lives so that strangers can come across their unseemly, but seemingly undeletable, posts and pictures from their pasts.
That goes too, for turning on your phone and having your Facebook world explode on your home page, which is really all “Home” does. I prefer having an app for that, so that I can get to other, less time-sucky stuff first.
Also unspoken is that this immediate, bouncy, immersion in all things Facebook will make it easier for advertisers to track all the crazy fun. That, too, is the opposite of what most human demos -- never mind 18-24s -- want.
I find it hard to believe that there’s nothing fresh or fun here -- that this monster company in the social space can’t come up with a decent ad that connects. It’s the Emperor’s New Hoodie: Part Deux.