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The Muppets star in new ads for Facebook’s video calling products, Portal

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LA-based agency Anomaly has created a new advertising campaign for Facebook company Portal, featuring iconic characters from TV show The Muppets. Launched last year but now-available to pre-order, Portal is a range of video calling products from the social media giant.

Created by Anomaly LA, the Facebook AR/VR creative team and directors Dayton/Faris, the premise behind the ad is that the Muppets, like many friendship groups, are scattered across the globe and unable to hang out as much as they like. It begins with key characters like Fozzie Bear, Rowlf the Dog and Miss Piggy signing the show’s theme tune with sadness in their voices. Instead of lamenting the loss of his friends, Kermit takes the initiative to send each of his pals a Portal device and the ad shows their resulting conversations.

The 90-second slot plays on some of the relationship dynamics viewers will remember from the show, including Animal playing practical jokes on his band, a somewhat stressful co-cooking session between the Swedish Chef and Pin and, of course, a long distance relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy. Over the next few months these storylines will develop in a series of ads, depicting how the Muppets use Portal products.

Dave Kaufman, director of marketing for Portal, told AdAge that the campaign aims to “showcase the unique value that the Portal family of products can bring into people’s lives, which is helping people to ‘feel together’ no matter where they are. [When Portal first launched] we felt there was a lack of human connection in the category, as the majority of home devices didn’t have a screen or camera.”

Not everyone has been a fan of the ads, seeing them as an attempt to mask the potential sinister side of Portal (given the major Facebook security breaches like the one that gave Cambridge Analytica access to the data of 87 million users without their permission) with nostalgia for the fuzzy characters. Writing in Fast Company, editor Jeff Beer says of the ads, “No amount of Miss Piggy cooing, ‘Oh Kermeeeeeeee…’ should soften your heart to the potential privacy risks associated with software development kits (SDKs) that are already collecting reams of data on all of us, often without our knowledge.”

The Muppets was originally created in 1955 by Jim Henson (the American puppeteer and animator behind The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth) and his wife Jane. In 2004 the characters were acquired by Disney, leading to two film reboots and numerous TV and advertising appearances.