Coca-Cola Australia's Not-So-Happy Story

By Bizclik Editor

What started as a cheery marketing idea quickly turned into an online cat fight for Coca-Cola Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.

To involve Facebook users in a “little social experiment,” the company’s Australian page invited Coca-Cola product fans to “Add a word to the person above you to create a happy story” – the kind of activity that even second graders struggle to take seriously in class.

As one may have anticipated, the experiment backfired: within days of the campaign’s launch on Monday, 781 responses were posted, but not all of them “opened happiness” as Coca-Cola would have hoped: rather, a number of obscenities and insults – some directed at other posters – erupted on the page.

Read the latest issue of Business Review Australia

"Around 70 responses were removed as they were not in keeping with our 'house rules',” Coca-Cola told the SMH. These ‘house rules’ prohibit the publishing of comments that are deemed inappropriate or offensive.

Around the world, Coca-Cola has embarrassed itself plenty through other seemingly harmless marketing ploys:

1985: In perhaps the company’s biggest blunder to date (some would say their biggest mistake of the century), Coca-Cola introduced the “New Coke” – with a new taste formula – on 23 April 1985. Fans of the 99-year-old formula, “[likening] the change in Coke to trampling the American flag,” revolted, pouring the “new” formula down rain gutters and calling HQ to protest. It took Coca-Cola three months to reintroduce the old “classic.”

2004: In China, ‘Coca-Cola’ was first read as ‘Ke-kou-ke-la,’ which means “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” – an unappealing image in either dialect. After researching 40,000 characters, the phonetic equivalent ‘ko-kou-ko-le’ meaning “happiness in the mouth” was selected.

2011: Apparently the heartfelt message of "We're turning our cans white because turning our backs wasn't an option” from Coca-Cola North America president Katie Bayne just didn’t do it for diehard Coke fans. Just last year, Coca-Cola had to pull their limited edition white holiday cans – designed to raise awareness and WWF funding for the polar bears – from the shelves across the US and Canada when customers flipped out over the can colour change.

Passion certainly runs deep around here.

Share

Featured Articles

Twitter timeline – how Musk pulled off a hostile takeover

Elon Musk strikes deal to buy Twitter for US$44bn following four months of cryptic tweets, secret meetings and buying of shares – here’s the timeline

Top 10 Asia restaurants, from Tokyo’s Den to Bangkok’s Sorn

From Tokyo to Bangkok, with cuisines spanning Cantonese, Thai and German, we highlight Asia’s top 10 places to eat, as per Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

Microsoft: what Asia leaders need to know about hybrid work

Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index guides Asia leaders to navigating a hybrid future – from making the office worth the commute to rebuilding social capital

Meet the company: EV Nio to list in Hong Kong, enter Europe

Leadership & Strategy

12 Tech trends to watch closely in 2022, from CB Insights

Technology

Why Deloitte Australia’s HR technology is winning awards

Human Capital