Mark Zuckerberg had a bit of meta in his meta presentation
Amid a massive corporate pivot, a month-long press cycle and growing calls for regulation, Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to know he has a sense of humor.
In an 80-minute opening presentation announcing his company’s name change – from Facebook to Meta – and the abandonment of traditional social media, the 37-year-old CEO made sure to insert a long-standing gag that its employees and subscribers would appreciate: a bottle of barbecue sauce.
Eagle eyed watchers knew it wasn’t just any condiment on the shelf behind Mr. Zuckerberg. It was Sweet Baby Ray’s, the spicy grocery staple that has been elevated to a meme since the Facebook founder mentioned it in a now infamous 2016 video at least 11 times while he “smoked meat” in his garden. He laughed at himself.
While Mr. Zuckerberg has struggled to make himself feel empathetic and approachable, he and his army of press officials seem to have realized that a little self-deprecation goes a long way in making a man worth $ 116 billion. a little more normal dollars. They have made an effort for years to rehabilitate his image – an image that has been defined by meltdowns on stage, bizarre statements and constant corporate crises. Like his business, Zuckerberg seems to want to leave the past behind.
And so, for a few hours at least on Thursday, people were talking about Mr. Zuckerberg – not as an almighty CEO whose company provided a platform to undermine elections, spread disinformation and incite violence, but like a pretty cool guy. .
A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment for this article.
Sweet Baby Ray’s has been part of the company’s tradition ever since Mr. Zuckerberg made his love for the sauce known in a 2016 live video that has been forgotten. In weekly company-wide question-and-answer sessions with employees, references to barbecue sauce are sometimes accompanied by other internal jokes, including the CEO’s love for McDonald’s spicy chicken nuggets. and his obsession with owning goats.
In April, as part of a larger effort to keep his publication away from accusations of the company’s role in spreading disinformation and hate speech, Mr Zuckerberg posted a photo of a sale of ‘grocery store for her favorite barbecue sauce, calling her “my kind of okay.”
Sweet Baby Ray’s cameo in Thursday’s presentation was worth more than $ 2 million in media mentions in 24 hours, according to Apex Marketing Group, a brand consulting firm based outside Detroit. (A Sweet Baby Ray’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.)
That wasn’t the only Easter egg that Face – er, Meta stuck in the presentation.
At one point from the creek, Mr. Zuckerberg appeared at a desk with a bottle of sunscreen on it and a surfboard leaning against the wall behind him.
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The objects were a reminder of a photo circulated last year of Mr. Zuckerberg on the high seas in Hawaii, his face covered in a large dose of zinc sunscreen as he drove a motorized hydrofoil.
This photograph, Zuckerberg later said in an Instagram Live video, was an attempt to hide from the paparazzi. It had the opposite effect.
After a demonstration of Meta’s planned expansion into video games, Mr. Zuckerberg nodded verbally to his lathered face: a game opponent, in the video, asks him if he wants to replay. “Maybe later,” replies Mr. Zuckerberg. “I’m going to need a lot more sunscreen, though.”
As the media continues to publish stories based on the thousands of documents leaked by a company whistleblower, a company name change and a few jokes likely won’t erase Meta’s past. But they can help undermine the public perception that Mr. Zuckerberg can’t stand a bit of rib.
In part of Thursday’s presentation, her avatar tried to sit at a virtual card game with a group of friends. One of them had chosen his digital presence to be a robot.
“I thought I was supposed to be the robot,” Mr. Zuckerberg joked.