When the Coca-Cola Co. was developing its latest social media campaign, content involving Adolf Hitler was most certainly not part of the planning process. Unfortunately for the cola giant, a series of inadvertent tweets featuring lines from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” has forced the company to the pull the plug on its highly touted #MakeItHappy campaign, according to Adweek.
Created in partnership with marketing firm Wieden + Kennedy, Coke’s advertising campaign encouraged Twitter users to reply to negative tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy. Coke used an automated process to identify those tweets and transform the words into an image using ASCII lettering code. The images included a cute mouse and a palm tree wearing sunglasses.
The aim was to spin negativity on the Internet into positive and playful messages. However, media blog Gawker noted a critical flaw in the campaign and sought to expose it. After noticing a tweet from Coke’s account that turned a slogan of white nationalism into an ASCII dog, Gawker created a Twitter account named @MeinCoke, which tweeted lines of Mein Kampf and included the hashtag #MakeItHappy. As expected, Coke turned the words into a cute image, that of an ASCII-formed dog
Two days ago, Coke suspended its automated replies to tweets that include the #MakeItHappy hashtag. In an e-mailed statement sent to Adweek, a company spokesman wrote that “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.”