I’ve done enough corporate we-really-are-nice-guys ads in my life to know a non-apology when I see one.
This ad checks all the boxes of corporate humility except one. There’s the no-frills art direction. The modest little logo in the lower left. The snowy-white negative space. The “personal” flourish of Zuck’s signature. The plain-spoken, Riney-esque syntax.
Everything a mea culpa ad should have, except for one thing: the magic words “I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg does say “…I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time.” That’s some lawyered-up bullshit. Anytime you hear someone in the public eye say something with the words “at that time” that’s a lawyer talking. “I’m sorry.” needs to be its own sentence, without qualifiers and without hedges.
“I’m sorry.” The magic words that open ears and soften hearts. They’re not in this ad because Mark Zuckerberg is not sorry. What’s more, he’s not sorry that he’s not sorry because you and I are not his customers. We are the product. And products don’t get apologies.
They get sold.