Coke’s phoney happiness machine is a fail for me

In this guest posting, Tony Richardson argues that the Coke Happiness Machine viral sucks.

The folks at Coke have created a viral video and as hoped it’s being circulated worldwide … but for all the wrong reasons. The main one being that it is possibly the lamest viral ever created.  

Harsh criticism? I don’t think so.

Just as we view a TV commercial with a certain set of expectations so too do we view viral videos. TV spots are selling us something that might use a joke, or charm, or a claim to sell the benefit. After about age five we realise the difference between entertainment and sales.

Even not very entertaining TV ads can get into our heads by simple repetition. But of course that repetition has to be paid for.

Then someone invented viral videos. Originally these were simply charming films starring real people or animals doing funny-ish things. The guy hugging folks on Pitt St, the numa numa guy dancing in front of his screen, and more recently Darren the waving goat.

All a bit of fun and a diversion from real life worries and cares.

When millions of folks not only watched these videos but also passed them to friends, marketers became interested. “Hmmm could we get into this free media viral thing?”.

Well the answer proves to be “possibly, if you forget the TV rules and follow the three simple Viral rules.

1. TVCs are all branding. Viral hides the branding. See the Kobe Bryant car jump viral ad for Nike. Count how many times the brand is mentioned. You won’t need many fingers.

Looks authentic.

2. TVCs are usually shot like movies. Good movies. Lighting, editing, cuts etc. Virals are usually one shot, one camera, no clever lighting, angles or editing. WatchKobe again. His little cousin could have shot it.

Looks authentic.

3. TVCs are little stories or messages. Beginning, middle, end. Virals are events. Watch Kobe again. Jumping a car. “Far out man. How’d he do that?” (Well he cheated a bit, but that’s another story)

Still looks authentic.

Coke broke all three viral rules and probably more. Too much branding, shot too professionally, strange fake story with people who are obviously acting. Then they titled it ‘Happiness Machine’. Ouch.

Viral videos need to be very light on branding, look homemade and show an event. That’s the way they have evolved and what people read as authentic. This spot is the opposite of authentic.

And as a final sign that the guys at Atlanta really don’t get it, they ask that we pass the video on … y’know, because it’s viral.

Well, I am passing it on, but as an example of how NOT to do viral.


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