the grass is greener on the internet

Online friends are not for real
July 20, 2009, 1:12 pm
Filed under: 1 | Tags: , , ,

…and I wish this ad wasn’t.

online friends

“Be confident! But not too confident because your online friends don’t really like you.”

Clearasil seems to be struggling with mixed messages. On their ‘be yourself for real’ website they’re challenging image distortion on online networks by teenagers.

The premise is that you should ‘keep it real’ because making yourself look better online doesn’t improve you as a person. To correspond with keeping it real, three teenagers are used as role models to talk about how they deal with image problems and online friendship.

Interestingly, none of Clearasil’s ‘real voices’ have any acne problems at all.

The point about your Facebook friends not necessarily being your ‘real’ friends seems moot. Most of Clearasil’s respondents seem to acknowledge that online friendship is a different level anyway – according to ‘The Pulse’.

But there’s a whole other can of worms. They seem to be talking about looking cooler in terms of touching up your profile pictures on Facebook. (Makes sense – don’t use Photoshop, buy Clearasil.) This is only a small part of the image control that goes on; try quizzes, friend hoarding, camerawhoring, status updates, detagging, events, groups… Risky pool to dip your toes into.

Still so far the dialogue has managed to stay in safer territory, through control of the ‘shout box’ – questions asked by the ‘real voices’ and then answered by users.

To give you an idea of how much ‘dialogue’ is actually going on, as it currently stands their Alexa ranking is around the 2,000,000 mark and average time spent on the pages is 2.3 min per day.

They’ve tried to compromise between open dialogue and directed conversation. But you just can’t compromise on authenticity.

Though it might be an interesting resource for understanding how teenagers really feel about online networks.

Clearasil, if someone liked me just because I had clear skin, would they really be my friend? I’m worried about it. Like, srsly omg. Txt me bk.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hey Katherine,

Thanks for your thoughts on the campaign. I’m the digital strategist behind it and I wanted to take the time to address a couple of the points you brought up

“On their website they’re challenging the image distortion on online networks by teenagers”: that’s exactly what we want to do. As a brand, Clearasil is standing against the liberal identity manipulation that’s evident on many of these platforms.

“The point your Facebook friends not necessarily being your ‘real’ friends seems moot”:
This thought, as you identified previously, is at the centre of the campaign. Clearasil is challenging teenagers to question the validity of their hundreds of online friends, whether they be Faceook, Bebo, BoredofStudies, Twitter or otherwise. If our respondents are acknowledging this then fantastic! That’s one of our communication objectives.

“But there’s the whole other can of worms”: Absolutely, and the Clearasil stance is clear. Irrespective of the digital social mechanism in question, be yourself for real online and off.

In terms of compromising between open dialogue and directed conversation, the site is a blog, much like yours. The blog is moderated, because it is branded and because the primary audience is teenagers. In its very essence, a blog is a mixture of open dialogue and directed conversation and this has little to do with the authenticity of the brand or the communication.

Again, thank you for your feedback, I look forward to meeting you at an industry get-together at some point in the future,

Ben Phillips
Digital Strategist Euro RSCG

Comment by Ben Phillips

Thanks for replying Ben – always great to get an insider view.

Out of curiosity, how long is this campaign meant to run?

Don’t get me wrong – someone needs to address the issues teenagers have with their online image! But ultimately I think of the Dove Real Beauty campaign and the degree of authenticity they managed to achieve.

Whether it’s on purpose or not, the questions feel directed to a certain conclusion and respondents will pick up on that. I agree, you need to moderate, especially when teens and branding are involved! But I would differentiate between moderation and directing, and if conversation is confined to one track they will get bored.

Maybe there’s already a feature for this and I missed it, but allowing users to submit questions to be asked Dolly Doctor style might help them feel like they’re having more of a say and keep them coming back.

Also, the Facebook ad could probably have a question that better reflects the campaign – the current one doesn’t really make sense.

Thanks for taking the time to respond – greatly appreciated.

Comment by katherineliew

hello lovely people my name is kwame from GHANA and i an looking for a close friend.i am free for everyone.waiting for your messages.

Comment by kwame frimpong

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