Facebook’s new ‘Friends’ ads unleashed on Canadians in Toronto and Vancouver

At 11 years old, we’re watching Facebook do something that’s familiar: changing. But this time it’s not your profile and privacy settings that are being updated.
For about a week now, the company’s new ‘Friends’ ads have been playing and posted in and around Toronto and Vancouver.
As the Toronto Star points out, these ads might be evidence the company understands its user base is growing up. After all, the world’s largest social network hasn’t been a secret among college kids for a long time.
The televised ads feature people across all age groups at weddings, on road trips, and having kids. Major life events and the things we do everyday with friends take centre stage in the new series of advertisements.
And then there’s the way Facebook shares the ads on their regional page. One of the ads posted on the 28th asks viewers to share with a ‘childhood friend they haven’t seen in years’. Another ad shows two older men laughing on a bench, and says ‘Friends get better with age’.
Although a few of the ads are the same as the ones we see over here, a similar campaign in the UK features some ads that aren’t on Facebook’s Canadian page, but send the same message. An ad posted in March says ‘things will get out of hand when the Party Friends show up’ and features two older women doing the twist around a jukebox.
So while they might be cute and make you think back on years past, whether or not the campaigns make sense is up for debate. Facebook is huge here; with estimates that half of the country uses Facebook and about a quarter of Canadians use the app on their phones.
This year, estimates are that 18.5 million Canadians are on Facebook. And that number is expected to grow steadily over the next few years.
On the other hand, there’s no sale being advertised, no ask to ‘buy now’ or become more involved in Facebook. The ads feel familiar enough: a narrator saying things that sound convincing over music we recognize, but then what’s the point?
This is vastly different from other Facebook advertisements out in Canada and Australia for the company’s non-profit initiative to get Internet access to parts of the world that aren’t connected (Internet.org). Ads for this campaign are about how being connected helps improve our world.
At face value the ‘Friends’ ads seem to be created solely for warm and fuzzy feelings. And by including older men and women, the ads suggest Facebook wants to appeal to a part of its network that’s growing daily.
One reason behind the advertisements could be to remind people of what Facebook is all about – connecting with friends.
But if Canadians are such avid users of the platform, are ads celebrating friendship really necessary?
At the very least the comments and articles about the ads (like this one) show that the campaign is starting some conversation.