Thomas Moradpour Brand Directions Thomas Moradpour Brand Directions
In Your Face! Facebook Profile Hostile Take-Over

Since mid December 2010, Facebook started rolling out a new Profile layout, which most users are now familiar with. Its most distinctive feature is the use of tagged photos to add more visual impact and personality to your page. A new line of photos now sit right at the top of the page, in plain sight for everyone to see.

Many people have since started using the new profile creatively, creating unexpected compositions with all the images on the page. They followed in the footsteps of French artist Alexandre Oudin, who was the first to “hack” his profile. The featured picture of this post is a great example, and you can find plenty more here, and there.

What most people don’t realize is that while you can “hack” your profile yourself, “friends” can also do it to you – the top picture line will show photos where you have been recently tagged… by you, or by others!

A German advertising agency recently used this to their advantage for a very disruptive recruitment campaign. Five short days after the new profile functionality went up, two of their employees spent a night tagging 250 of the most connected advertising professionals, advertising schools, and journalists in Hamburg – who weighted together a collective 90.000 friends. In this first ever “Facebook profile guerrilla campaign”, they essentially high-jacked user profiles as advertising billboards for the agency. Take a look in the video.

I’m torn between awe and shock at this brilliant… but very intrusive tactic.

To be honest, I’m not 100% in love with the way they executed it. I don’t quite understand the relevance of the “In Your Face” message. You had to click and zoom on the picture to get the actual message. But that’s the price of getting it out there in just 5 short days after the new profile picture was launched. Kudos.
DraftFCB claims the campaign was a massive success, driving huge buzz in the Hamburg advertising community, quadrupling the number of applications almost overnight. And only costing them one Facebook friend, who did not find it amusing…

I guess the first one to do it can get away with it…
What do you think?

Video source – DraftFCB Hamburg via

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  • Ken Rosen

    I’m with you that “In Your Face” seems to bury the lead a bit. But they certainly get massive points for the quick response to a new capability, not to mention the apparent results and nice re-purposing as the story within a promotional tool. Thanks for pointing this out. You do get around….


    Ken Rosen
    Performance Works

  • Jessica Young

    Innovative, but feels like a one-time win to me. Its worse than using the DM on Twitter to spam people because not only are you forcing your message into my “space” (here, my wall) against my will, but now you’re also exposing (exploiting?) my list of friends to it against my will. Disruptive the first time – yes, and I believe they only lost one person because it was a new profile and an new, unseen tactic; but once others pick up on the trend, I would expect rampant untagging and unfriending to follow. The question would then be what rate of loss is acceptable for what’s being gained? And what segment of your base are you losing (your loyalists who enjoy opting in to your message) vs. what you’re gaining (the ones drawn to shiny objects)?

  • jeannie_chan

    As a marketer, I must submit that this is kinda genius. Honestly, it was only a matter of time before the “new” media is cluttered / intrusive / ignored to a point of no return also. Personally, I don’t know if I can sign off on this kind of geniusness. A little too creative for my liking.

    I get the reason why they buried the headline. It’s meant to be a teaser. Imagine one day you look at your profile, it has that headline. You would be like “what?”, and you will click on it. The cleanness of the execution is part of the beauty. If the message was obviously a “hack” by an advertiser, it’ll actually lower the engagement. In addition, they are looking to demonstrate their creativity and to attract like-minds. Since when do creative people want to serve up everything at one go? Where’s the mystery in that? Where is the cool-factor in that? Some brand people however (yes, I’m talking about myself) want to put every RTB and then some on each ad :)

    @Jessica: That’s another genius part of the plan. One time is all it takes. You were the first to exploit it. You were the first to show creativity with it. And it was a recruitment campaign, one time targeted to 250 people. They can’t be hiring more than a dozen. And all 250 will remember the campaign for years to come. Know your audience. Know your objective. Key to success for every campaign.