China-based messaging app WeChat targeted Mark Zuckerberg, without explicitly identifying the character as Facebook's CEO, in its latest advertisement promoting the app in South Africa.
The video posted on YouTube features a therapist with a German accent counseling a patient lying on a couch, whose face cannot be seen but resembles Zuckerberg’s trademark hairstyle, flip-flops and voice. The character, who is only referred to as “Mark” in the commercial, tells the therapist that he has been losing all his friends.
“I invented the social network and now my friends… they’re unfriending me,” says the patient, to which the doctor responds: “Poor Mark, this is a classic case of friendophobia.”
The psychiatrist then calls upon his assistant who brings a phone with the WeChat app while the narrator says: “With WeChat’s friend’s radar function, Mark can find real friends. It’s the best safer way to connect.” The therapist then shows the patient how he can use WeChat’s radar function to find and call nearby strangers.
The 35-second segment then shows "Mark" sobbing, prompting the psychiatrist to say: “Ah, come on Mark, don’t make me unfriend you too.”
Facebook recently launched a similar feature called "Nearby Friends," which allows users to track other users with the help of GPS-tracking on a real-time basis. In February, Facebook purchased the messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion, which currently has about 500 million active monthly users, compared with WeChat's 355 million users.
In a follow-up ad, "social network boy Mark" sends his lawyers after the therapist to try and stop him from prescribing the WeChat app. The therapist says: “Oh Mark, your anger is merely a cry for help.” He then tells Mark to use WeChat stickers to express his emotions.