Facebook released its first television commercial Friday. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it’s in honor of the social network welcoming its billionth member, though coming after two months of stagnant stock market performance it could be meant to reassure anxious stockholders.
In the ad, Facebook positions itself as a utility as elemental as a chair. Here’s the 90 second version of the ad:
For a website that’s already been immortalized by an Oscar-nominated film, the ad struck me as overwrought. The emotional manipulation of the ad goes from modest (“Chairs are like Facebook”), to inflated (“Doorbells, Airplanes, Bridges. These are things people use to get together”) to grandiose (“A great nation is something people build so they can have a place where they belong.”). The whopper comes at the end where Facebook claims it’s the answer to the age old problem of existential angst.
That’s the exact opposite conclusion some social scientists had in recent well-publicized articles. Some conclude that Facebook use can contribute to feelings of loneliness. They also see it adding to narcissism. From this commercial, it looks like Facebook may have had the same effect on the company’s self-image.