Last week, a really strange advertisement appeared in my Facebook News Feed.

The ad was a sponsored post that linked back to Facebook’s official brand page. It listed the names of a couple of my friends who had ‟liked” Facebook’s page and showed me an advertisement clearly designed to create a positive association in my mind between Facebook, old friends, and my post-adolescent fantasies of being a rock star.

Facebook advertisement

 

Looking through Facebook’s brand page, it turns out this ad isn’t unique. In fact, it’s part of a larger campaign that includes other ads, like this one:

Facebook advertisement


The ads immediately seemed odd for a few reasons.

First, if the goal of the ad was to get people to use Facebook, this strategy seems like an odd way to do it. Since the ad pops up on users’ News Feed, everyone who sees the ad is necessarily already using the service. Second, seeing any sort of direct advertisement for a social network is a rare occurrence. Social networking sites typically rely on word-of-mouth and being featured in news stories as the primary methods of increasing adoption. Third, Facebook has only so many opportunities to display ads on my News Feed before I get annoyed and decrease my usage. By showing me an ad for itself, the company is likely forfeiting a bit of revenue.

So what’s going on here?

According to a Facebook spokesperson, this particular set of ads is gradually being rolled out in select markets as an extension of the company’s Facebook Stories campaign, where Facebook users share their personal experiences about the site having helped them do things like find love or start a small business.

The ads were created by the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, the same people behind the ‟Chairs are like Facebook” TV spot from 2012. Much like that instantly infamous advertisement, this new series of ads adopts a tone of Instagram-filtered instant nostalgia.