Wednesday, 7 October 2015
On Coke, But Only Socially
My first post, lost in the mists of time*, was about Gawker’s ridiculous, unnecessary attack on Coke’s Happiness campaign on Twitter.
(*Mists of time in this case being February of this year. A whole eight months. I should throw a party or something.)
I stand by that piece. Bitterly attacking a company, not for what they’ve done, but just for having the inclination to say something positive on social media, isn’t good for anyone.
But there’s something to expand upon here.
Recently the Center for Science in the Public Interest created a viral attack on Coke, again playing upon the Happiness campaign. By exploiting the popular label maker which allows you to create a personalised Coke (with the tagline “Share a Coke with X”), they created “Share a Coke with Obesity”.
I mean you have to admit that that’s pretty clever.
And it’s a smart stunt to undermine Coke’s credibility. It almost feels like a “here’s what they really think” message, hitting home precisely because it ties in with something that many people already believe about the company. Still more so because it’s dressed in Coke’s own colours.
So I think it’s a more incisive attack than Gawker’s. If nothing else because we know that sugar makes you fat. It’s a little bit more of a stretch to call Coke “literally Hitler”.
(Normally there would be a joke here. Let’s just leave it this time though.)
In any case, it caught people’s attention.
I still maintain that there’s a place for Coke. We don’t have to vilify it for every vaguely upbeat campaign it launches. But as with Gawker, this latest episode with “Share a Coke with Obesity” is a reminder of something important.
If you put an ad, a program, an idea out into the public domain, on social media – you give up control over it. Let people play around with and control your brand, and they will surprise and amaze you in both the best and the worst ways.
Coke can ban words from the label generator. It can turn off the Twitter message bot. But like it or not, the criticism will exist. And if you create a target for that criticism, you have to be ready for anything.
The internet is a strange beast. Remember that it can’t always be tamed.
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