How I became Amazon’s pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant on Facebook

My career as a personal-lubricant pitchman started with a favorited tweet on Stellar that linked to Amazon where, for just $1,495, anyone could purchase a 55-gallon drum of Passion Natural water-based lubricant (and save 46 percent off list!).

“What are you going to do with all this lube?! Wrestling match? Biggest adult party ever?” the pitch for the 522-pound tub went. “If you are looking for a simply jaw-dropping amount of lube, Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant is ready to get the fun started with this 55 gallon drum! With its superb formula you will have a natural feel that keeps you moist longer and also works great with all toy materials. Easily washes away with warm water and mild soap. You may never run out of lube again!”

While it isn’t eligible for free Amazon Prime shipping, freight is a reasonable $20.95. There were entertaining customer reviews, often the best part of the odd products for sale on Amazon, and, since it was Valentine’s Day, it was timely.

Amused, I posted it to Facebook with the line “A 55-gallon drum of lube on Amazon. For Valentine’s Day. And every day. For the rest of your life.” And then I went on with my life.

A week later, a friend posts a screen capture and tells me that my post has been showing up next to his news feed as a sponsored story, meaning Amazon is paying Facebook to highlight my link to a giant tub of personal lubricant.

Other people start reporting that they’re seeing it, too. A fellow roller derby referee. A former employee of a magazine I still write for. My co-worker’s wife. They’re not seeing just once, but regularly. Said one friend: “It has shown up as one on mine every single time I log in.”

I’m partially amused that Amazon is paying for this, but I’m also sorta annoyed. Of course Facebook is happily selling me out to advertisers. That’s its business. That’s what you sign up for when make an account.

But in the context of a sponsored story, some of the context in which it was a joke is lost, and I’ve started to wonder how many people now see me as the pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of lube.

78 thoughts on “How I became Amazon’s pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant on Facebook”

  1. My recent decision to buy a lifetime supply of personal lubricant is EXACTLY why I quit Facebook. I didn’t want anyone to know about–

    Doh! Ah, shit…..

  2. Great story.

    Interesting thing is that Facebook present these ads based on its own profiling of the person logging in.

    So – those people who say ‘It has shown up as one on mine every single time I log in,’ may wonder what Facebook knows about them.

    And so may we!

  3. You can turn this off.

    Account Settings > Facebook Ads > Edit social ads setting > Pair my social actions with ads for: > No One

  4. i think this is fascinating on a lot of levels. the bottom line, other than the invasion of privacy and your becoming a lube dude, is that you wrote some AWESOME copy. you should get paid for that.

  5. “Hey, it’s that lube dude!”- This is such a timely article. I was JUST discussing with another friend the mystery of “sponsored stories”. Neither of us were really sure how it worked, and I must say I’m still a bit confused. This has to be one of the funniest examples of it. Went and checked my Account settings like a commenter here suggested, and I’m set up to share with no one. My question is, what were your settings before this happened to you, and did you change your settings?

  6. I think this situation is actually rather funny and it’s nice to see you have a good attitude about it, but if I were you, I would honestly make them pay me for using my ‘ad’ slogan, simply to stop worse things from occuring in the future because of this. I’ve never heard of this happening before, so I imagine it’s a new thing? Some new gimmick about ‘word of mouth’ as I read in the article, but that’s not what this is. They violated your personal information and are trying to use it for their personal gain. Where does it end? I have my own fan page on facebook, where I assume I still own my photographs and information, and the rights to those. But if facebook sells out my information, what’s to stop a company from buying my copyrighted photographs or works of art, or more likely someone’s written work, such as poetry, and marketing it? Even if they ‘credit’ me, as it seems they did you, they’re infringing on your rights, which is wrong.

    If nothing else, I would sue for damages to your name. Most people get it was a joke, but what about future employers who aren’t as understanding and don’t get that this wasn’t your fault? That’s not right. Just because this is the internet doesn’t mean companies or people should get away with using your information without your consent. :/

  7. Seems to me they are willing to pay FB but not the guy? I’m not sure that is even legal to use someone else advertising without their permission. Sounds illegal to me! And cheap and immoral on their part. But nowadays especially with FB, seems people think they are above the law and just do whatever they want hoping or thinking noone will do anything about it and won’t call em on it.

  8. Was it eligible for the Amazon Affiliate program? Did you use an Amazon affiliate link from your account?

  9. Okay, I’m going to start posting links to Facebook using my own Amazon affiliate links to see if Amazon will pony up the cash to put them in all my friends’ ad columns on a daily basis.

  10. Nick, this is a funny story and also important to know. I wonder how many people will start backing off from Facebook (and other media) if they also end up accidentally being co-advertisers.
    Two things, though: You didn’t write whether Amazon sent you a complimentary tub for all your great promo work, or tell us how well the stuff works.

  11. @MH
    “I would sue for damages ”
    You can’t you don’t own you anymore. Zuckerbutt does

    “They violated your personal information”
    No they didn’t yo gave them full rights to you

    “I assume I still own my photographs and information, and the rights to those”
    No you don’t you signed away any rights when clicked “I Agree”

  12. i also became the unintentional pitchman for that product… but i had a different reaction. i now regularly deliberately post every bizarre product i can find on amazon to my facebook feed to see how many different hilarious products i can be ‘advertising’. friends send me links to new funny things they find. i figure that every time i appear, an actual ad is being pushed out, so it’s a public service.

    some of the recent products i’ve advertised: a book about fighting depression by constricting your anus, realistic models of male genitalia that are used by nurses, vaginal specula, various tanks and military equipment, all kinds of live animals…

    it’s really quite fun, and it’s a nice creative project that people of all backgrounds seem to enjoy participating in :P friends seem to enjoy seeing which strange thing i’ll be ‘recommending’ next, and since whatever comment you post with it is the caption, i’m having a lot of fun coming up with appropriate captions.

  13. Anything you don’t specifically disallow in FB’s privacy settings, they can legally use. It is considered that you have given tacit approval for distribution or use by FB for any purposes, free of any liability (legal or financial) by not utilising those privacy settings. You agree to that when you join. Photos, text, poetry, personal information, even non-patented ideas and inventions. That’s why there are so many advocate groups out there urging new members of social networking sites to go through all the privacy options before they post a single word or picture. Facebook isn’t going to tell you that – the more they encourage people to use privacy settings, the less material they have to work with!

  14. These comments make it very apparent that people need to start reading Terms of Service, and Disclaimers before just clicking that “I Agree” button. Clearly these people would be incredibly easy to take advantage of, and unfortunately, they wouldn’t even know until it was too late.

    Assuming that your information is going to remain hidden or private on ANY social networking site these days, is incredibly naive at best. Many of them have you sign over the rights to ANY and EVERYTHING you post. Be careful.

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