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Facebook ad puts lubricant joke on slippery slope

Nick Bergus posts a joke on Facebook about an Amazon listing for a 55-gallon tub of personal lubricant. Soon, he becomes the unwitting pitchman for the product. Social ads, anyone?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Today, we must discuss tomorrow. It is a time when everything will be social, including ads.

Indeed, Facebook's trend toward getting the unsuspecting to peddle products to friends will, according to one wise person, re-create marketing as we know it.

Perhaps Nick Bergus, huge fan of personal lubricant, might be a guinea pig for this brave new world of craving.

I am socially grateful to Gawker for discovering Bergus' story on his blog, NickBergus.com.

As Bergus tells it, he saw a tweet on the very nice "favorite things" site Stellar that revealed you could go to Amazon and buy a 55-gallon drum of Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant. This slippery bargain would only set you back $1,495.

The Amazon listing is extremely helpful with ideas on what to do with this much personal lubricant. "What are you going to do with all this lube?! Wrestling match? Biggest adult party ever,?" it gushes.

Also helpful was the list of other products that interested buyers of this vast tub of lube: the Accoutrements Horse Head Mask, for example. And the Pyara Paws Clean Tracks Microfiber Cleaning Glove.

Bergus seems to be very fond of roller derby. Will he soon be advertising that too? Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Understandably, Bergus was amused by this listing and greased the wheels of his social circle by posting it to Facebook with the comment: "A 55-gallon drum of lube on Amazon. For Valentine's Day. And every day. For the rest of your life."

As so many who attempt jokes in our modern world, Bergus was pained to discover that some people took it seriously. Some people, perhaps, at Amazon. Or, even at Facebook.

For his joke became a sponsored story. You know, one of those things where your personal predilection becomes an ad for a product.

His friends began to see it in their news feeds. There was his face, his words and the lube. (The ad is on his site.) Somewhere, the joke had slithered away.

It's hard to tell whether Bergus is amused or annoyed (or both) that Amazon is actually paying Facebook to run this ad. However, he wrote: "I've started to wonder how many people now see me as the pitchman for a 55-gallon drum of lube."

Perhaps you now might start to wonder what products you might soon be unknowingly pitching. You might, after a long night on the town, make a joke about toilet brushes or Brasso.

Before you know it, you are the shiny spokesperson for pristine latrines or, well, full metal jousting.

Some might be flattered to be the unpaid shill for a corporate entity. Some, though, will surely feel, as many feel after a long night on the town, used.