By Quentin Fottrell
Advertisers want to be “friends” – with benefits – on Facebook. But a condom company’s guerilla marketing effort tied to World AIDS Day, rankled both the social-networking site and, perhaps, its users.
Brazilian advertising agency Age Isobar found a unique way to market condoms: Scare the living daylights out of a select group of men by sending a “friend request” from their unborn child. It tacked “Jr.” to the end of recipient’s names, added a baby picture, then sent them a “friend” request on Facebook.
Facebook disapproves of the marketing tactic as fake profiles goes against company policy — even in the interest of promoting safe sex. “Facebook has always been based on a real name culture, and we believe this his leads to greater accountability and a safer and more trusted environment for the people who use our service,” Facebook spokeswoman Annie Ta tells Pay Dirt. “It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity.” Age Isobar declined to comment.
The social-networking site also encourages people who are friended by their “Jr.” namesake to let them know. “We encourage people to report anyone they think is doing this through the ‘report’ links found on nearly every page of the site,” Ta adds. She says Facebook has a team that reviews these reports “and takes action as necessary.” We also have technical systems in place to flag and block potential fakes based on name and anomalous site activity.”
And the condom gag isn’t even effective as a sales tool, according to Matt Wallaert, social and behavior psychologist of digital strategy firm Churnless.com. “Certainly it has high emotional salience,” he says. “You’re painting a vivid picture of the consequences of an action and that’s generally a good way to change behaviors.” However, he says that this type of campaign would be more effective if it were also making its condoms move convenient to buy. Otherwise, he says, it’s merely a gimmick.