Coca-Cola has been forced to suspend its automated tweet #MakeItHappy campaign — designed to transform mean tweets and negativity on the internet into cute images — after it was tricked into quoting Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Coca-Cola introduced its brand campaign #MakeItHappy with a 60-second commercial during last Sunday’s Super Bowl, Twitter users to mark negative tweets with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. Then, the brand turned those words into cute art images using ASCII lettering code. “Focusing on the importance of injecting happiness into the internet.” The company claimed, “We turned the hate you found into something happy,”
However, Coca-Cola did not anticipate what would happened next. For example, the official Coca-Cola account tweeted a picture with the fourteen-word slogan of white nationalism “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.”
“Even when the text is shaped like a dog, it is disconcerting to see Coca-Cola, the soda company, urge its social media followers to safeguard the existence and reproduction of white racists,” wrote Gawker editor Max Read.
After noticing this, the tech blog Gawker decided to have some fun with the campaign. Gawker created a Twitter bot, @MeinCoke, which tweeted lines of Mein Kampf at Coca-Cola to see if the brand would turn lines from Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto into art. On Feb. 3, Coca-Cola’s Twitter feed was broadcasting big chunks of Adolf Hitler’s text, albeit built in the form of a smiling banana or a cat playing a drum kit. Then in the afternoon of Feb. 4, the brand finally decided to stop its brand campaign.
“The #MakeItHappy message is simple: The Internet is what we make it, and we hoped to inspire people to make it a more positive place. It’s unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn’t. Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign.” The spokeswoman from Coca-Cola said.
Taking advantage of UGC (User Generated Content) is usually a good idea in running brand campaigns on social media. Many brands are trying to tap into the huge power of their fans and use their creative and original content to power their marketing campaigns. However, besides Coca-Cola, there are several other cases that brands encountered problems and crisis in UGC marketing campaigns. Last year, the New England Patriots were caught off-guard when attempting a social media campaign celebrating the team’s Twitter account amassing 1 million followers. It finally ended up with New England Patriots’ apologizing for “filtering system failed”. So, Auto-tweets are rarely a good idea in running UGC campaigns, a comprehensive filtering system with not only machine but also human beings involved should be built in advance.
Also, Coca-Cola is not the only company that noticed the problem of negative attitudes on social media. Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO, said he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.” When running campaigns on social media, brands should be really careful with the issue.
If you are the executive of Coca-Cola, how do you deal with the problem Coca-Cola is facing now?
Do you agree that many people tend to have more negative emotions when they are on social media? Why/Why not? Then how to solve the problem?
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