An open apology to people using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, etc.

Taxi’s Jason McCann apologizes for Facebook abuses.

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to judge some international advertising and digital awards shows. As usual, I was inspired by the array of amazing ideas and executions. But somewhere in there, between the endless integrated campaign videos and boondoggley dinners and drinks, I noticed a disturbing trend that must be addressed and, indeed, apologized for.
I obviously can’t speak for every agency or every creative, but I’ll speak for myself and address the users of every social media platform and say that I am sorry. I am so, so, so very sorry. We’ve gone too far. We have treated you with the level of respect normally afforded to a bar tab on a corporate MasterCard.
While looking through the work from dozens of countries, I began to realize that we have filled Facebook and Twitter with millions (perhaps billions) of profiles for every major (and excruciatingly minor) character from every ad campaign on the face of the earth. We are using social media to simply replicate our campaigns, not truly integrate them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic brand-driven examples in the social space. My current favourite is an Ikea concept from Forsman & Bodenfors. To celebrate the opening of the Ikea in Malmö, Sweden, the store manager posted pictures of “sample rooms” from the showroom floor. The first person to tag an item (like a couch) with their name won that item – a brilliant idea, and an execution totally indigenous to Facebook.
Part of the problem is a lack of resources from both agencies and clients. Too often the role of social media gets relegated (in terms of time and budget) to some poor art director creating a fan page at 2 a.m. on the night before a campaign launches. This is not fair to the art director, it’s not fair to the social platform, but mostly it’s not fair to you – the audience.
In an attempt to make amends, I will go on record right now and say that the guy in the oversized hat from the background of a TV spot does not need his own fan page. Nor does the flying dog, or the fake company that sells the fake product that’s worse than a client’s product. I will also admit that most actors playing personable store employees don’t have enough to say for themselves to fill a Twitter feed. Believe me, I wish it weren’t so, but it is.
To recap: I am very sorry. I’ve been part of the problem, and I’ll try to do better. I will try to integrate value into social media and not just replicate content.

Sincerely, @djasonmccann

PS: This was originally going to be an apology to Facebook itself, but with the recent changes to its platform and policies, it appears to have morphed into a privacy-killing death star that doesn’t really deserve an apology.