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Facebook Got Gamed

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As Homer Simpson says: “I’m no super-genius… or are I?”

About thirty seconds after reading the news about Facebook’s new advertising initiatives I blasted them as “overreaching.” I think that was obvious to anyone who’s involved in advertising and seen the various privacy debates and debacles over the years.

So why did smart marketers like Coke lend their name to the initiative if they knew it was going to fail?

Probably because they didn’t know it was going to fail. They probably suspected it was going to fail, but they couldn’t be sure. If I was the evil genius running marketing at Coke (no offense, Joe, Carol) my thinking would be:

  1. If Facebook succeeds, Coke gets a premier spot at the table and a brand boost for being savvy about the intertubes thing;
  2. If they fail, we back away slowly and say they misrepresented what they were doing and we would never be involved in anything so disrespectful of our customers, never.

And, even if Facebook gets beaten up for their overreaching, next time around the public is more used to the idea that their privacy is an illusion. The erosion of our expectations of privacy has taken place slowly over the past hundred years, two steps forward, one step back.

In other words, Facebook was cannon fodder.

The Facebook partnership with Coke was no partnership, it was a free option for Coke and the other “landmark partners.” Coke almost certainly knew how this was going to play out before they agreed to participate. They didn’t throw Facebook under the bus after things went sour, that was the plan all along.