Today, Faceboook announced that it had reached its billion-user
milestone, and to celebrate, it has launched a poetic film from its
agency of record, Wieden & Kennedy
in Portland, Ore.
The film, titled "Things That Connect," opens with a series of
artful, emotional vignettes of people sitting and interacting on
chairs -- before moving on to other objects and events through
which folks come together, such as a doorbell, airplanes, bridges
or a basketball game. The point being, that all these things exist,
perhaps, to remind us that we're not alone. It was created by
Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which Facebook today also
unveiled as its global agency of record.
Facebook's head of consumer marketing Rebecca Van Dyck
"What we're trying to articulate is that we as humans exist to
connect, and we at Facebook to facilitate and enable that process,"
explained Rebecca Van Dyck, a former exec for Apple and Levi's
who joined Facebook as head of consumer marketing
in February. "We make the tools and services that allow people to
feel human, get together, open up. Even if it's a small gesture, or
a grand notion -- we wanted to express that huge range of
connectivity and how we interact with each other."
Although it seems to mark a single moment, it's a vital
component of a branding strategy that 's been a year in the making,
one not originally intended to coincide with the social network's
"This started long before we knew we were going to reach a
billion," said Ms. Van Dyck. "We started thinking about this a year
ago and approached Wieden & Kennedy to help us craft a message
that articulated our values and who we are. It wasn't until
recently that we realized we were close to reaching 1 billion, and
we thought what an amazing way to honor our users, to create this
piece for them."
The film launched this morning globally, with an introduction
from founder Mark Zuckberg. Ms. Van Dyck said Facebook will also be
using its various ad products, including premium page posts and
sponsored stories, for the rollout. "We'll be able to walk the
footsteps of what our advertisers go through," she said.
Although Wieden & Kennedy had previously worked with Ms. Van
Dyck while she was at Levi's, she said the agency preceded her
arrival at Facebook and was brought in by Brand Creative Lead
Jessica Sittig when the company started to consider a bigger
In developing the idea, Wieden Creative Director Karl Lieberman
said the agency spent months meeting with Facebook staffers and
getting to know the company. "We tried to figure out what it is
that the company's really interested in," he said. "There's a quote
by David Kennedy that I really love: 'Great brands don't talk about
themselves, they talk about what they really love.' If you follow
that blueprint, you'll realize that Facebook loves things that are
social. It finds it interesting and essential that there's this
innate, human desire to connect."
The film was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of
Anonymous Content, who directed the critically acclaimed film
"Amores Perros" as well as previous high-profile Wieden projects
like Nike 's "Write the Future" and the Emmy-awarded "Best Job"
Olympics spot for P&G. The agency chose him for his ability to
add emotional depth to an idea that on paper, was "almost academic,
anthropological," said Mr. Lieberman. "We knew we needed Alejandro
to take a simple, logical argument and bring a true sense of
humanity to it. We didn't want it to feel critical, as the words
are pretty straight, so we wanted him to drop that layer of real
human emotion on top of it."
"One of the things that we were really excited about was that he
creates epic pieces of film but he can capture the smallest gesture
of intimacy and connections, and that was going to be really
important for us to get across in a short amount of time," Ms. Van
In terms of tone, since this would be Facebook's first major
marketing message, "Facebook wanted to speak in a significant, but
humble way," said Mr. Lieberman. "We thought that starting off with
chairs really did that . We don't think about chairs a lot, but you
can if you want. You can spend $5 on a chair, or $5,000. They could
be incredibly ordinary, or incredibly sophisticated. We thought it
was a humble but interesting way for Facebook to start talking
Continuing in the humble vein, the ad makes no mention of the
billion-user landmark. "We wanted to use 1 billion as the platform
and the moment in time, but we didn't want to turn the message to
be back about us in any way," said Ms. Van Dyck. "We like the idea
of using the context of the moment but we wanted the piece to be
thoughtful and to be about our users."
Going forward, Ms. Van Dyck couldn't disclose any specific
marketing plans but said the efforts will continue with the help of
Wieden. "The best marketing that we have is people coming to
Facebook every day connecting with their friends, families, local
business, but every once in a while we're going to want to define
for ourselves who we are and share our values," she said. "You're
seeing that from us today and it's a conversation we want to
continue with our consumers."
Ann-Christine Diaz is the Creativity Editor at Ad Age. She has been covering the creative world of advertising and marketing for more than a decade. Outside of the job, she can be found getting in touch with her own creativity.