Facebook recently released Home and promoted it with three television ads: Dinner, Airplane, and Launch Day. Cute ads, funny. Facebook hit home runs twice but struck out with the third.
In Airplane a guy sees images of family and friends and others come alive around him in the airplane. When the flight attendant asks him to turn off his phone, he quickly takes another peek before shutting down and nodding off.
In Launch Day as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg announces the launch day to a “staff,” one member of the staff pays more attention to Home on his phone than he does to Zuckerberg. Again the images seem to come alive as Zuckerberg proclaims his excitement about the new product, until imagination becomes reality when the staff member is drenched in water from one of his images.
Finally, in Dinner, an aunt boringly relates lots of nothings at dinner while her rude niece looks at the phone in her lap, cruising Home. Like the other ads her images take on life around the dinner table as she enjoys the Home experience and ignores the people at the table, especially her boring aunt.
As ads, Airplane and Launch day work well, but Dinner sends the wrong message. Here’s why.
In Airplane the guy turns his phone off when he’s supposed to, well almost, but he does turn it off after the flight attendant asks.
In Launch Day ignoring a boss is a big mistake and would be egregious except for the fact that the ad makes the situation absurd when it melds reality and fantasy by leaving the individual soaking wet.
Unfortunately, there’s no such spoofing in Dinner. Here the rude girl does what is so frustrating to so many people today: She focuses on her phone instead of on the people she is with. Unlike Launch Day man who ends up doused in water or Airplane man who shuts his phone off, she benefits from her rudeness, and the ad implies that her rude behavior is totally justified and acceptable.
Over and over we hear how people are appalled at the rudeness exhibited when a phone is more important than the person or people you are with, especially at the dinner table, at a meal with others. Her rudeness is not acceptable, and Facebook shouldn’t be touting rudeness as a benefit of Home.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."