The Newshound is seeing a worrying trend developing across mainstream marketing channels, where everyone is suddenly becoming everyone elses mate, and hes sure weve got social media sites like Facebook to thank.

On Facebook, The Newshound is pretty popular – nearly 360 friends and counting. Odd then that weekends arent more insane for this socially sedate pooch. But I think most of us understand that many of our Facebook friends are stretching the definition of that term to new extremes. Been poked lately? Lets be friends! Beat me at Scrabulous? Wanna be buddies? But it seems that the rather weak definition of friend being popularised by social media is finding its way into more traditional marketing campaigns with increasing frequency.

So when the appointment of the lovely Sophie Falkiner as ambassador for the AMP Capital Shopping Centres for the next three years was announced today, you do wonder how much time Shaun Swanger, AMP Capital Shopping Centres CEO, had been spending on social networking sites when he decided to position Sophie as every shoppers friend in the know.

Sophie chips into the debate by offering her own definition of what being a friend in the know actually means. My job is to help customers and I will do this through sharing tips, opinions and experiences much like you would with a best friend, mum or partner. Seems like shes going to be pretty busy dishing out sagely styling tips, as she just acquired friends across 41 shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand.

Shaun Swanger also added through our centres Sophie is able to share a laugh, joke or tip with shoppers and by doing so, help us connect with them and add some value to their shopping experience. I seriously hope they have discussed Sophies contractual obligations clearly with the striking 34-year old Mum to three-year old Isabella – well shes going to be spending an awful lot of time laughing, though the joke might be on AMPs marketing department.

Are customers really supposed to see Sophie as a friend in anything but the flaky Facebook sense? Yeah, sure, Tom is my friend on MySpace, but the fact that hes also friends with 100 million other people does sort of cheapen the bond we have. I mean, what are the chances that most of us will ever get a chance to experience the value of Sophies shopping experience? Or get a chance to share a laugh with the TV presenter about her favourite hair elastic?

The Newshounds view?

All jokes aside, surely this kind of promise cant be delivered
upon? Or maybe it just doesnt matter. Call me cynical, but perhaps
just having a pretty face around the same age as a key target
demographic to plaster all over your real estate is, well, just what it
is.