Friendster Rips Off MySpace’s Brand Positioning

By Mark Skoultchi

December 7, 2009

It makes sense that the granddaddy of social networks would try to prove it was hip with one last hurrah. I’m sure the board of directors or the management team has grand plans for how to make Friendster relevant again. But, there are a few problems with their relaunch strategy.

The simple fact of the matter is that no one likes to use old stuff. Especially old technology. You have an original iPhone?! Ew, gross. And social networks come and go every two years or so, and then fade into obsolete obscurity. Sure, Friendster was the shiznit back in 2003/04. But then MySpace came along and rocked poor Friendster’s world. Then Tribe hit certain areas and had its own little cultish following. Meanwhile Facebook swept in and played the social networking game better than anyone else. To think that Friendster can beat Facebook in the popularity contest is absurd. Ah, but therein lies the juicy nugget. Friendster isn’t trying to beat Facebook. Listen carefully again to the ad.

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Okay, now that you’ve watched it again… The first 12 seconds are clearly aimed directly at the heart of Facebook: “plain, boring, too common, too generic.” All the while they show pictures of old people. Yep, that’s Facebook alright. Everyone and their mother is on it, which means no more anonymity for teens. If Jane’s buddy tags her in a picture from last week’s kegger, Mom is surely going to find out. In fact, the average age of Facebook users has been steadily increasing as more parents jump on the bandwagon. Teens are bailing out of what they see as an old, boring sinking ship. So, where are teens doing their social networking then?

That’s right, you guessed it: MySpace. You might have noticed that right after the 12-second mark in the video, the gauntlet was thrown down directly in the face of MySpace. “I want my own space. With my own music. My own look. My own style.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that MySpace’s brand positioning, word for word?! Hell, they even said “my space” in the first sentence. MySpace also lets users customize their profile page and is well-known for being the destination for bands and musicians.

I applaud Friendster for knowing who their real competition is. But, dude. Srsly Friendster?! You just copied your main competitor’s brand messaging. And, you didn’t even do it cleverly. It reeks of “me too.” I’m not hearing anything that would make a teenager want to jump ship from MySpace and start using Friendster… again.

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And finally, WTF is up with that stupid new tagline?! Connecting Smiles?!?!?! Are you kidding me? What, are you trying to do, attract the Hannah Montana demographic or something? That tagline makes me think of Pokemon and Polly Pocket commercials. Not Lady Gaga and JZ.

Sheesh. Maybe you should’ve hired a real naming firm to help you come up with your new tagline.

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