The Social Network Not Allowed To Use Facebook To Market The Facebook Movie

We've known for some time now that director David Fincher's latest film, The Social Network, would not paint Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a flattering light, and all the marketing for the film thus far has only amplified that fact. First there was the poster, which put the film's tagline—"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies"—front and center. Then there was the teaser trailer, which featured even more aggressive white text, this time keeping things simple with words like "PUNK" and "TRAITOR". And just earlier today, a second teaser trailer found its way to the internet, featuring Zuckerberg and company bickering like a bunch of petty children.

So really, the question isn't, "Why won't Facebook be advertising the Facebook movie?" The question should be, "Why the hell would they want to?"

This doesn't mean Sony didn't look into advertising on Facebook for the film, however. All Things Digital has a quote from Steve Elzer, SVP of Media Relations for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, that suggests the studio would've been interested in doing so, were if not for Facebook's restrictive policies.

Facebook's advertising guidelines don't allow ads to reference the company unless Facebook has cooperated with the object of the ad. So, we won't be advertising there given these parameters.

Facebook's head of PR, Elliot Schrage, also weighed in on the matter.

My understanding is that they asked us for our ad guidelines and decided not to advertise on us after receiving them. I don't think they ever submitted ad copy for us to review.

In short, Sony came to the exact conclusion that any sensible person would in the same situation: There was absolutely no way Facebook would allow them to present their company in the manner intended, and pursuing any further options would've been a waste of time. Still, from a studio standpoint, this must be hugely frustrating, since Facebook's 500 million users are the exact demographic they're hoping to market towards. It'll be interesting to see how they try to work around this dilemma, and if they'll find a way to reach Facebook's user base anyway.

I can't imagine any of this will pose too big of a problem for the film. Considering how prominently Facebook and its design are displayed in all of the film's early marketing materials, anybody who's familiar with the site will instantly recognize its relation to the movie. This is where the benefits of making a movie about social networking kicks into gear. As long as the trailers are out there and easily accessible, Facebook users (and even those with accounts on Myspace, Twitter, etc.) are guaranteed to start passing them around. They don't need to advertise on the site; the site's users will do the job for them.

At this point, the studio should probably be focusing their energy on resolving another issue: Making the film not look so damn silly.