Social Media: Gaffes & Greatness


Social Media: Gaffes & Greatness


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Even the biggest brands stumble in the social media sphere. Coca-Cola is the latest company to offer a cautionary tale.  As part of “a little social experiment… to create a happy story”, Coca-Cola Australia invited its facebook fans to post one-word comments in response to previous posts. The idea was to generate a free-association narrative. Within minutes, the experiment devolved into an exchange of name-calling and obscenities between the fans.  Coca-Cola deleted many of the 700-plus responses since the majority “were not in keeping with our house rules.”


Although that Coca-Cola effort fizzled, another online campaign is popping.  As part of a 2011 initiative, Google invited four international brands to reinvent their once-iconic ads for a new generation. Reuniting the creative teams behind the original ads, the challenge was to re-imagine the brief using the latest technological tools.


Coca-Cola chose to reinterpret its seminal 40-year-old ad, ‘Hilltop’. A phenomenon at the time, the 1971 original ad celebrated tolerance and unity and featured a multicultural cast singing ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’.


Updating the ad for the digital age, Coca-Cola created an interactive campaign that honors the hippie-inspired One-World vibe of the original. Using mobile technology, users can send a free Coke to a random stranger in another country and connect directly with the recipients. It goes to show that, even with all the whiz-bang expertise, a great campaign rests solely with a great idea.


For more information about the campaign, and to see other examples, log onto


Catherine Feliciano-Chon

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