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Twitter, marketing and why Coke just can’t seem to avoid Nazi controversies

Coca-Cola is one of the best in the business when it comes to advertising. But the company, an advertising pioneer with products in pretty much every country on Earth, might want to sack a few people in the marketing department as they stumble from one Nazi crisis to another.

A few weeks ago, Coke started their ‘make it happy’ campaign, which encouraged the public to use the hashtag #makeithappy in response to negative tweets. An algorithm would then convert the tweets to a drawing of a happy, cute animal.

Fun, right? What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot, it seems.

Gawker decided they would get in on the action, creating a bot which tweeted lines from Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf (My Struggle). The book was written by Hitler when in prison in the 1920s, and is best described as the irrational ravings of a lunatic that would go on to start the biggest war in human history. (The book is still banned in Germany).

As reported by The Guardian, Hitler’s anti-Semitic rantings were turned into cutesy characters, like a palm tree with sunglasses or a chicken drumstick wearing a cowboy hat. The characters were accompanied by lines from the book.

Coke pulled the campaign in response to Gawker’s trolling – however the company later said that the campaign was not pulled, but was scheduled to end at that time anyway.

The actual text: Even if the union were a matter of economic indifference, and even if it were to be disadvantageous from the economic standpoint, still it ought to take place. People of the same blood should be in the same REICH. The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until they shall have brought all their children together in the one State.

The actual text: Even if the union were a matter of economic indifference, and even if it were to be disadvantageous from the economic standpoint, still it ought to take place. People of the same blood should be in the same REICH. The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until they shall have brought all their children together in the one State.

Coke later came out somewhat strangely and suggested that the marketing campaign had been a success, with Gawker’s actions displaying just the kind of negativity that the good people down at Coke wanted to target. Or something.

The Twitter campaign backfiring is nothing new. Even some of the best marketing agencies are struggling to use Twitter as an effective tool, with NFL Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots, Qantas and even Bill Cosby encountering similar difficulties on the social media platform.

The controversy was unwelcome for the Coca-Cola Company, who are also dealing with another Nazi-related controversy from a recent marketing campaign.

The company’s German branch underestimated the German public’s sensitivity towards anything related to World War II and the Nazis with its latest marketing campaign for Fanta. The marketing campaign, which celebrates 75 years of Fanta, urged the public to “remember the good old times”.

Fanta Classic: Remember the good old Nazi times? Things then were so much simpler (and terrifying).

Fanta Classic: Remember the good old Nazi times? Things then were so much simpler (and far more terrifying).

The problem is, as many Germans pointed out, the good old times of 75 years ago were the good old Nazi times – not a time that many Germans, or Europeans for that matter, remember as particularly ‘good’.

Fanta was invented in Germany by the Coca Cola company in World War II as materials to produce Coke were scarce and anti-American thinking was on the rise. The drink was a hit and managed to survive the war, but even the best marketers in the business would have trouble spinning that the event which caused the most death in human history was a “good old time”.

Coke later pulled the campaign, saying they wanted to celebrate all of Fanta’s life – not just the circumstances surrounding its creation.

While I am no marketing whizz, maybe Coke need to have a bit of a think about their media strategy. If it has something to do with the Nazis, it’s probably best just to go back to Red Santas and sexy, curvy bottles.

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