I was looking at an event one of my friends created for his birthday when one of the Facebook ads on the upper right caught my eye. Normally, I don’t pay any attention to Facebook ads because they are usually for stupid things like dating sites, Facebook games and all sorts of services that I would never use, but this one was different. I was pretty shocked by what I saw.
Most ads for arcade shooters have cartoony characters in them, but this was different. The soldiers clearly look like US soldiers in desert camouflage, being viewed through a sniper scope. They could be soldiers who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. A quick Google search for American soldiers reveals plenty of photos that look very much like the one used in this advertisement. Even if they are not American soldiers, I still think it is wrong.
The text in the ad really puts it over the top:
RAW Shooter. No story, no tactics, no costs. Just aim and shoot. Addicting. Click here to PLAY!
I have no problem with shoot ’em up games, but to use real soldiers being targeted via sniper rifle in an ad is in poor taste and offensive. Many soldiers have died as a result of sniper attack in Iraq and Afghanistan and to make it into a game is really crossing the line. Whether you agree with the war or not, these soldiers serve our country. They do not deserve to be targeted in a Facebook ad to promote some dumb game. This ad is disgusting.
I clicked on the ad and was taken to Gamevance.com, a site that allows you to play a whole bunch of arcade style games. At first I thought that the ad was created by a freelance search marketing company that gets paid for driving traffic to the company, but could not find an affiliate program. The site may use another type of affiliate marketing, but I could not find it easily. There are three possible conclusions. First, gamevance.com created this ad promote their shoot ’em up game. Second, a freelance marketer without a connection to gamevance.com created the ad. Third, there is a chance the soldiers approved their images in this ad, but I highly doubt it. Gamevance should make sure that this ad is not shown again.
Which brings me to my next question: how did this ad get approved by Facebook? They usually take at least a day to approve ads when I have used them for different businesses and have some pretty stringent rules for companies to follow before ads are approved. How did the Facebook Ad approval process allow an ad like this to get through? Someone at Facebook has some explaining to do.
I also wonder how other Facebook advertisers feel about this ad. When I saw the RAW Shooter ad, there was a large banner for Freshetta pizza below it. I wonder how they like being featured on the same page as an ad targeting US military personnel through a sniper scope. Facebook has advertisers like Freshetta, AT&T and many others.
What do you think? Is this advertisement offensive? How do you think it got past Facebook’s approval process? Do you think other advertisers will be annoyed by this?