If Mark Zuckerberg is to inherit the mantle as the next Steve Jobs, he's going to have to do better when it comes to advertising. These new Facebook Home ads, for example, don't make me want to rush out and get Home on my phone. Rather, they make me think that we would all have much more fun if we turned off Facebook entirely and lived our lives like those we follow.
This seems like exactly the wrong message.
The first ad, "Airplane," features a man on a plane, away from home - get it? Only, not really, because "Home" brings his friends and family to him. In his case, that means transvestites, a naughty little boy, his buddies at the beach and someone I assume is his wife - with a serious thing for cats. He's the normal one.
It's fun. Only, has "normal" ever helped sell anything?
Next up is "Dinner."
The message here is plain: your family is boring; really, really boring. Even when the family is seated around the dinner table, it's best if you pull out your phone and watch what all your cool friends are up to. Spoiler alert: it's way better than whatever you are doing. Unlike Airplane, there is nothing good about this ad.
Finally, we have "Launch Day." It's as much a playful look inside Facebook as it is an actual advertisement. Zuckerberg appears in this video - and does just fine. That Facebook employees would rather be "on Facebook" than listening to Zuckerberg speak is actually pretty funny. This is the best of the bunch. Although it still strikes me as odd that even the young, possibly rich "hackers" working at Facebook are all so boring compared to their friends.
Where are all these beautiful people? Maybe we could be like them - even with them - if we didn't spend all our time on Facebook?
That's no way to advertise a cool new service.
And will any business approve a Facebook Home phone now that even Facebook is telling everyone that work comes second?
Perhaps what Facebook is attempting to do is send this message: what your friends are doing - right this moment - is so cool, so odd, so outrageous, so much fun that you have to stay in constant contact with them. That's a pretty good message, actually. Only these ads do not make that at all clear; at least, not nearly as effectively as they could.
There is a free-spirited, playful quality buried within each of these ads, unable to come out. I wanted to like them all. But the overall tone, unfortunately, is more wistful. It's like discovering that the person driving in front of you with the "I'd Rather Be Fishing" bumper sticker lives a rather sad life all the times when he is not out fishing. Nobody wants that.
Facebook Home has several innovative features and has received generally positive reviews. Mark Zuckerberg has called Home "the best version of Facebook there is." There is a great deal riding on its success. I do not believe these ads will help.
Image taken from Facebook Home "Airplane" ad.