Gawker traps Coca Cola into tweeting phrases from "Mein Kampf"

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?

Coca-Cola - #MakeItHappy - (2015) :60 (USA)

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.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Garret Ohm's picture

It's shit like this that has me scared ALL THE TIME that some troll is going to fuck up a campaign that I'm working on. Gawker may think it's a fun joke, but they're fucking with good, creative peoples' lives.

Ja Dee's picture

Honestly, I think it looks worse on Gawker than it does on Coke. Anyone with half a mind can see Coke didn't want for anything like this to happen, and can see that Gawker was the company turning something good into something toxic.

Sport's picture

I regret having done this, but I google for the Gawker article just to see how bad it was. It was worse than I thought.

This, the fourteen-word slogan of white nationalism, seems "off-brand" for Coca-Cola. But there it is, on its Twitter account, plain as day. 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. Is Coca-Cola a white nationalist organization? Its Twitter says: Yes.

While having a bot responds to tweets (without human filtering) was Coke's mistake, Gawker trolled that bot with Nazi phrases. Then they turned around and pinned the whole thing on Coke. Several news outlets are reporting this incident as if it was Coke's fault, following Gawkers "ironic" lead. This is atrocious. As Dabitch points out, Mein Kampf is illegal in parts of Europe, turning a campaign intended to spread unhate around to spread Nazi propaganda isn't "clever", it's moronic.

ThatCreativeDirectorYouHate's picture

So making a bot to handle the social media is an obvious mistake, Coke should have had interns checking messages, they could afford it. But the ones who come off as assholes here are Gawker, trolling a brand. This is the kind of shit you'd expect the terrible internet boogieman 4chan would do. People liked this Coke super bowl ad, and these assholes at Gawker ruined it. Fuck Gawker.

Dabitch's picture

Simply put, Gawker are hypocrites. The Gawker network has Jezebel breathlessly decrying sexist advertising even when it's such a stretch that Mister Fantastic can't make it. Gawker trolls brands left and right, they sic the pitchfork and torches mobs on any ads they don't like, as if to bully brands to use their creative production house instead. As if any brand would entrust them with their carefully honed brand message after this.

David Felton's picture

Gawker is toxic, vile and pathetic - this latest stunt just proves it once again. Personally I find the whole thing entirely antisemitic. Tricking a twitter bot into tweeting Hitler quotes and then saying 'Haha we got you Coke. WE GOT YOU! We took a big shit on your entire campaign.' It's not only childish, but it's practically hateful and borderline criminal. As others have already commented frequently - we would expect this from 4chan or a hate group. Imagine if instead of Gawker, @MeinCoke was run a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Disgusting, hateful trolling.

On the bright side, I do hope this causes more advertisers to pull their ads from the cancerous maw of the Gawker Network. Would you want your ads running on a website which pulls stunts like this? I certainly would not. I say it once again for clarity - I agree with you - this is hate speech.

However I would take it one step further and call it antisemitic. It's a Hitler bot for fucks sake. Do we need to remember what Hitler did in Europe, 70 years after the end of WWII? Six million Jews, plus anyone considered "undesirable" (gays, disabled, political dissenters) sent to the gas chambers, and Gawker turns it into a joke. Vile, hateful and disgusting.

Mark O's picture

The hypocrisy from Gawker is apparent, because you can be sure as shit they wouldn't have done this if Coke were advertising with them.

Gabe K's picture

Come to think of it, didn't a lot of advertisers pull out of Gawker recently?

ThatCreativeDirectorYouHate's picture

Quoting Max Read from Gawker's comments:

While Gawker strenuously disagrees with Coke's own clearly stated desire to "secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children," we are even more disappointed to learn that the corporation does not have the strength of its own white nationalist convictions. Happiness has been destroyed, for now.

On what planet is that shit funny?

Alfred J. Nonnymouse's picture

Planet Gawker, of course.

The same planet, I might add, where it's perfectly acceptable for one of your employees to post tweets that promote bullying and harassment - and, according to rumor, promote said employee instead of firing him.

(I refer, of course, to the events surrounding the Twitter activity of one Sam F. Biddle, who is also employed by Gawker and tweeted such things as "Bring Back Bullying" and "Nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission".

And for the record: as of the writing of this comment, he has not deleted the tweets in question.)

Dabitch's picture

Those tweets, and some more, can be seen here: Mercedes pulls advertising from Gawker network.

kidsleepy's picture

Perhaps they Gawker believes it can keep behaving this way indefinitely, but if I were Coke, I'd think twice about putting my ads on any Gawker Media site. And if I'm a different brand, I'd be worried I'd get the same trolling treatment.

Dabitch's picture

"That's a nice brand you got there. Would be a shame if something happened to it." ~Gawker

David Felton's picture

More like "That's a nice brand you got there. It would be a shame if someone used it as a mouthpiece for Hitler quotes, YOLO."

These dickheads really ought to be held accountable. Advertisers need to be asking themselves, do we really want our brand associated with the kind of people who do this?

Cam's picture

Here's what I don't get: Why ANY advertiser ANYWHERE would want to be on Gawker after this?

Simbolatchi's picture

Ugh. I feel uncomfortable associating with Gawker. What if they do this shit to my brand next?

Joseph's picture

Is it common for "news" blogs to engage in culture jamming?

Someone on the Internet's picture

If anything, this entire article is an argument against draconian laws against even *linking* to an account with Nazi propaganda on it.
Seriously, how can people just ignore the blatant idiocy behind such laws? It just brings Nazism underground, where it can fester and grow, and giving legitimacy to their "we're oppressed" narrative.