Ad Of The Week
Almost everything Facebook does is controversial. But at the same time as the company fights the threat of regulation and consumer backlash over privacy scandals, at least one branch of its activities is getting a warmer public reception. Facebook is quietly becoming very good at emotional TV ads.
“Mama Claus”, the holiday ad for its Facebook Groups product, aired last week. The industry hasn’t taken much notice. But ordinary consumers love it – it scored a mighty 5.6 Stars on Ad Ratings, suggesting an ad with exceptional potential to drive long term growth.
It’s an ad that sheds light not just on Facebook’s strategy to win back trust, but on one of the hidden trends of 2019. Tech giants are spending big on the very medium (TV ads) some commentators claim they’ve replaced.
The Weiden + Kennedy ad tells the story of a military mom deployed overseas at Christmas. She uses a Facebook Group to spring a holiday surprise on her husband, who’s home alone with the kids. It’s a simple story about the upside of social media and its potential to connect and amplify kindness.
Why did it get 5-Stars? The basic ingredients – holidays, families, and the military – are traditionally strong ones for US audiences, but the executional details help too. The risk with ads which dramatise technology is that they can feel disconnected and flat, overcome by awkward screenshots of apps and texts. “Mama Claus” avoids this by starting with some establishing shots full of human betweenness and connection. It also helps dodge mawkishness with a final-shot joke to provide a last-second lift.
Facebook’s early attempts to address public fear of social media via broad-reach TV ads weren’t so successful. Its initial privacy-themed spots last year were lectures, not dramas, and scored poorly in our tests, reminding people of the issues not reassuring them. Since then Facebook’s adopted a more oblique approach to winning back trust, and 5-Star results like this suggest it will work.
It’s part of a pattern which has seen high performing tech companies making stronger and more broadly appealing ads. Amazon has one of the top performing Christmas ads in the UK and US with its singing parcels. Microsoft had the most emotional ad of the 2019 Super Bowl with its award-winning Adaptive Controller commercial. And now Facebook gets its second 5-Star winner (its first, earlier this year, guest-started the Muppets).
Facebook, Amazon and Google are all known for strongly encouraging marketers to invest in digital and search advertising. But look at their actions, not their words, and these firms clearly understand and respect the power of broad-reach media.