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Facebook Hijacks “The Social Network” Buzz With Massive Adweek Party [Pics, Video]

Mark Zuckerberg’s crew enlists Cirque du Soleil acrobats and the mayor of Montreal for a night of revelry before the release of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher’s less-than-flattering Facebook movie. With any luck, attendees are too hungover today to make the premiere. Fast Company enters the belly of the PR beast and finds … cookies.

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Thursday night, Facebook threw a party–and not just any humdrum shindig. This is the doing of Mark Zuckerberg: Punk … Billionaire … Genius… as advertised in ads for The Social Network, the new sensational biopic of the Facebook founder. The film was finally released today after months of controversy, and if Facebook PR had their way, we’d be too busy updating our statuses to “whoa” to remember it.

It was the second in a one-two PR punch. Last week, Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark’s deteriorating public school system. Cynics quickly criticized the move as insincere, saying the donation was concomitant with the release of Aaron Sorkin’s film, which some say portrays Zuckerberg as a vacant-eyed misanthrope. At the end of the day though, $100 million is $100 million, whether Zuckerberg found it under his couch cushions or not. Still, according to the mayor of Newark, the donation was absolutely not an “elaborate publicity stunt.”

And according to the mayor of Montréal, Facebook’s party last night was in no way a PR move, either. To give you a sense of just what the party was like, Gérald Tremblay, mayor of Montréal, one of the largest cities in the world, was put on service duty. He spent the night passing out poutine from M. Wells to drunken partygoers, completely unaware of who he was, nor why fries, gravy, and cheese curd made such an appetizing combination. That’s right. The mayor of Montréal will take your order now (tips accepted).

The event Thursday at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City (relocated last-minute from Central Park due to rain), served as a cap to Adweek, and Facebook pulled out all the stops. Zuck himself was nowhere to be seen, but quite clearly, all 500 million of his friends were in attendance. Facebook logos were everywhere, from the banners hanging overhead…

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… to the shirts of bartenders and wait-staff serving desserts. You literally couldn’t get a drink without encountering someone touting the Facebook brand.

And if the music, dancing, and free booze weren’t enough, Facebook also threw in a performance from Cirque du Soleil, which wowed the crowd with its dramatic, gravity-defining routine. (Check out the insane Matrix-style video below.)

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But not all attendees were suckered in by the event’s extravagance.

“Honestly, I’m loving every sip of this drink because I know it’s coming out of Mark Zuckerberg’s wallet,” said one partygoer.

For at least one night, audience members were distracted by the party’s bells and whistles. Surely, many recognized how disingenuous it was for Facebook to throw an exorbitant blowout on the eve of The Social Network‘s premiere. And with millions of Zuck’s friends lining up to see the hottest movie of the year, he’s going to have to throw a few more parties–and donate a few million more–in order to keep the positive spin going.

Or perhaps he could just offer cookies.

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.

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