Coca Cola ran the happiest super bowl spot this year. In between the cute pre-bowl puppies and the dead kids, it was a beacon of light of a rather somber super bowl. It showed how a bottle of Coke spilled over the internet, internet harassment turned into smiley faces, cyber bullying to cyber compliments. It was as I called it, an updated version of "I'd like to teach the world to sing". Wouldn't it be nice if we were all a little nicer to each other?
To continue the campaign on social media, Coca Cola had a bot on twitter reply to any #makeithappy tweets with silly ascii art generated with the negative words that people tweeted to Coke. It worked intermittently, and sent @adland an astronaut sloth as a reply. The images created were limited, balloon animals, a smiling hamburger with coke, a cloud playing football, a smiley face, that sort of thing, and repeated. The first signs of a bot were apparent.
Gawker decided to make fun of the bot, in a very hipster New Yorker way. They set up their own twitter bot, called @ - MeinCoke (which I will not link due to laws where I am) and tweeted only excerpts from Mein Kampf with the #MakeItHappy tag. Early thursday morning the Coca Cola twitter account was thusly tweeting cutesy ascii art which was entirely made up of Mein Kampf quotes. Quotes that still fall squarely under hate speech laws in certain countries in Europe, where retweeting one of these balloon animals that encourages war could get you in trouble, and where linking straight to the @MeinCoke page is spreading hate speech. I won't link Gawkers own article where the excerpts are spelled out.
As soon as Coke caught on, they turned off the bot, and now there's headlines in Adweek, Guardian and everywhere that Gawker tricked Coke into tweeting Nazi quotes. Adweek: Tricked Into Quoting Hitler, Coca-Cola Suspends Automated Tweet Campaign. Adweek got this statement from Coke:
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 internet is what we make it. Great message, really, so the first step for Coke, a worldwide brand with a massive budget, should have taken was a non-automated route. Advertising by programming is how you get Mercedes banners next to the announcement of princess Dianas death in a car accident, we know better than this. So now Gawker, proving themselves still toxic to brands, attacked that vulnerability by making the Coke-bot tweet Hitler-quotes. Stay classy, Gawker. Thanks to the the perpetual motion native ad machine this event now has enough headlines in places like The Guardian & Adweek that Coke's image (and likely a spot on their Wikipedia page) will be dedicated to this prank. Brands are not people, no matter what gurus tell you, but if they were we'd be telling them to stay away from the so called friends who always got them in trouble.
We tried to code a bot that would take Gawker articles and turn them into journalism but it's beyond mankinds current technological ability
— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) February 5, 2015