Soda Sabotage

Last month, Coke was forced to pull their #MakeItHappy social media campaign.  It was an unexpected (for Coke) situation that could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the fact that the campaign’s algorithm went off the rails with some help from Gawker.

Taking this back to the beginning, Coke decided it wanted to make the internet a more positive place and so they had an algorithm developed that would take tweets tagged with the #MakeItHappy hashtag on Twitter and turn them into positive digital pictures supporting the new positive energy courtesy of Coke.  It was then predicted that tweeple would retweet the new, improved, positive messages that now had positive images attached to them.

On the surface, this sounds like a fantastic campaign even if no real person was going to monitor the tweets that passed by way of Coke’s account and bright, shiny polishing bot!

Gawker saw an opportunity to derail the campaign by creating its own Twitter bot named @MeinCoke.  As with the Coke campaign, they tagged their tweets with #MakeItHappy which triggered Coke’s Twitter bot to do its magic and generate cute pictures to go with the hashtag comments.  The problem was that Gawker was taking quotes from Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

The campaign was suspended but not without a statement issued by Coke that read:

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.

That’s all fine and dandy were it not for the fact that Coke seems to have missed an important lesson:  Nothing can replace the human touch.  In other words, if a living, breathing human being had been in charge, the bot-generated comments would most likely been caught before they were processed and put through.  Bottom line?  White supremacist ASCII art stood a worse chance of being caught be a real person then it’s more likely than not that this situation never would have happened.

While most everyone is busy wagging a finger at Gawker, they seem to be overlooking the fact that Coke didn’t consider all the possibilities about what could conceivably go wrong with their campaign.  This is why we, as entrepreneurs and small business owners, need to keep an eye on our social media accounts to make sure that the message that’s being sent out on our behalf is actually what we intended to see put out there!

Elyse Bruce



Coca-Cola Pulls Twitter Campaign After It Was Tricked Into Quoting Mein Kampf

Coke’s Automated #MakeItHappy Twitter Promotion Runs Into Trouble

Coke Tweets Inspirational Hitler Art, Isn’t Actually That Into “Mein Kampf”

Coca Cola Pulls Twitter Campaign After Hitler Related Sabotage



One Response to “Soda Sabotage”

  1. Weekly Round-Up | ELYSE BRUCE Says:

    […] TUESDAYS:  Soda Sabotage When Coke left an important social media campaign in the hands of technology, the campaign went off […]

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