Coca-Cola has been forced to withdraw a Twitter advertising campaign after a counter campaign tricked it into tweeting large chunks of the introduction to Hitler’s getting to know you book Mein Kampf.
Marketeers thought that the campaign dubbed “Make it Happy” during the Super Bowl, Coke invited people to reply to negative tweets with the hashtag “#MakeItHappy”.
The idea was that an automatic algorithm would then convert the tweets, using an encoding system called ASCII, into pictures of happy things – such as an fluffy mouse, a palm tree wearing sunglasses or a chicken drumstick wearing a cowboy hat.
Apparently, this was going to make people want to drink some sweet brown liquid with bubbles in it which can also be used to clean toilets.
In a press release, Coca-Cola said its aim was to “tackle the pervasive negativity polluting social media feeds and comment threads across the internet”.
Gawker editorial labs director, Adam Pash, created a Twitter bot, @MeinCoke, and set it up to tweet lines from Mein Kampf and then link to them with the #MakeItHappy tag – triggering Coca-Cola’s own Twitter bot to turn them into cutesy pictures.
For two hours on Coca-Cola’s Twitter feed was broadcasting big chunks of Adolf Hitler’s text, albeit built in the form of a smiling banana or a cat playing a drum kit.
Gawker managed to quote the words “My father was a civil servant who fulfilled his duty very conscientiously” in the shape of a pirate ship with a face on its sails – wearing an eyepatch – before Coca-Cola’s account shut down.
In a statement to AdWeek, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola said: “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.”
The statement concluded: “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.”