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Advertising has a powerful effect on how a company, product, or service is viewed by target customers. Brands spend a large part of their marketing budget on the development of new ads, such as posters, videos, or radio commercials. An effective advertisement can help a business to improve its reputation, draw customers’ attention to its products, and gain a competitive advantage. A poorly made ad, on the other side, can do the exact opposite.
Creating an ad is about portraying the company in a positive light, showing its most attractive features and qualities. The purpose of this task, however, was to create an ad that critiques a brand or product. Thus, the aim was to depict the negative qualities of the brand and the controversy surrounding it.
Facebook is a social networking platform that is subject to criticism and suspicion. The primary concern surrounding Facebook is that of data safety and security, as Facebook was linked to major data leaks and is now under investigation. Also, people often criticize Facebook for creating a space for gossip, which often turns into cyberbullying. The image of Facebook is controversial, which is a good opportunity to create a satirical ad. The paper will seek to describe and explain the process of creating the advertisement for this assignment.
The color scheme and style used in Facebook ads were among the main inspirations for this ad. Facebook often uses simple, blue, and white designs when advertising its services, which reflects the style of the website itself. The overall style of the ad also mirrors Facebook ads’ style, as it is simple and focused on small details, while the large part of the poster is a plain background with no text or images.
On the left side of the poster, there is a group of words shaped to resemble Mark Zuckerberg’s head and face. The text includes words often used on social media, such as “chat,” “lol,” and “like,” as well as bigger, more prominent words that are connected to the meaning of the ad, including “gossip” and “irony.” Next to the head, there is a slogan: “We will share your data with anyone.” The visuals of the ad server create meaning by highlighting important ideas and topics in the debate surrounding Facebook.
The image of Mark Zuckerberg was also an inspiration for the ad. First of all, Zuckerberg represents Facebook in the eyes of the public. As the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, Zuckerberg also answers to the public for the controversies and scandals surrounding his company. For instance, he recently represented the company during the congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, where he attempted to apologize for the data leaks and assumed personal responsibility for them (McGregor).
Indeed, the figure of Mark Zuckerberg has been subject to scrutiny in the past, particularly for unethical acts. Although Facebook was founded by a team of four co-founders, Zuckerberg became the most famous and earned the most profits from the company. One of the co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, was ousted by Zuckerberg, which later resulted in a lawsuit and a settlement (Kosoff). Other co-founders received minor shares in the company when it went public. In addition to this, Zuckerberg is known for creating controversial services and features on Facebook that affect the users’ privacy and confidentiality. Thus, using Zuckerberg’s image as a representation of ethical conflicts surrounding Facebook was a useful idea, as it creates a strong association between the company’s past and present.
A significant part of the meaning is hidden behind the group of words on the left side of the poster. There are several subgroups, and each one has a different meaning or association. First of all, there are short words and abbreviations, often used in chats to save time (e.g., “lol,” “lolz,” and “OMG”), as well as words and phrases specific to the context of social networks (e.g., “like this,” “comment,” and “tagged a photo”). These words serve to draw attention to the use of social networks and their effect on our daily lives. For many people, online popularity and connectedness became substitutes for real-life communication. This contributes to the threat posed by Facebook, as the more information, photos, and posts people share, the more data becomes subject to leaks and misuse.
The next subgroup of words repeated throughout the text refers to online behaviors (e.g., “gossip” and “network”). While many people use Facebook to connect with others, it also creates space for gossip, trolling, and other harmful behaviors. For example, Facebook is often connected to cases of cyberbullying, which is damaging to victims. Over 85% of reported cases of cyberbullying occur on Facebook (Gayle).
The ad attempts to show that what might begin as innocent gossip or a networking opportunity could lead to bullying and cause psychological damage to many Facebook users. Lastly, “irony,” “data leaks,” and “identity theft” constitute an important subgroup of words that create an association between online behaviors and threats to the safety and security of information. The irony is largely focused on the fact that, while Facebook attempts to clear its name after the most recent scandal, it continues to trade users’ information to third parties for the purpose of advertising and increasing profits. Such an approach to information security leads to data leaks and cybercrime, including identity theft.
The slogan for the ad was inspired by the most recent controversy, as well as Facebook’s history of user data misuse. In March 2018, Facebook became the center of public attention after major news outlets released reports that claimed that the data of 50 million users was sold without consent to Cambridge Analytica, a company that specializes in political targeting of the electorate (Lomas). However, this was not the first report of data leaks for Facebook. Starting from 2007, when Facebook launched a program utilizing data about users’ online purchases on other sites to provide targeted advertisement, the company was subject to data abuse (Lomas).
The history of controversies surrounding Facebook paints the picture that the company would sell the personal data of users to third parties to achieve higher profits, regardless of the consequences. The slogan is used to convey this idea to the audience, thus critiquing Facebook and warning users about data leaks. Another important aspect of the slogan is that it is placed next to Zuckerberg’s mouth as if he is the one saying those words. This feature adds to the connection between Zuckerberg and Facebook’s failing business ethics.
Overall, the satirical ad produced as part of the assignment serves to critique Facebook. The advertisement was largely inspired by the scandals surrounding Facebook throughout its lifetime, whereas the visual aspects of the ad work as a reference to real Facebook ads. The advertisement uses text, image, and association to create an effect on the audience and draw their attention to the controversial practices of the company.
Gayle, Damien. “Facebook Is the Worst Social Network for Bullying with 19-Year-Old Boys the Most Common Victims.” Mail Online, 2013. Web.
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Kosoff, Maya. “Facebook’s Ousted Co-Founder Is Trying to Become the Marc Andreessen of Asia.” Vanity Fair. 2016. Web.
Lomas, Natasha. “A Brief History of Facebook’s Privacy Hostility Ahead of Zuckerberg’s Testimony.” Tech Crunch. 2018. Web.
McGregor, Jena. “Facebook Ceo Mark Zuckerberg Has Apologized — Again.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.