Coca-Cola has been forced to suspend its #MakeItHappy campaign after an elaborate prank from blog site Gawker had the brand relaying several lines from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
The idea of Coca-Cola’s campaign, which launched during the Super Bowl, was to stop the spread of negativity often seen online. In addition to a fairly cheesy TV ad, which showed some sugary spillage fixing the world's anger issues, it asked Twitter users to mark negative posts with the ‘MakeItHappy’ hashtag, after which the company used the American Standard Code for Interchange, or the ASCII, to turn the negative words into cute pictures, mostly involving animals.
A Gawker writer spotted a fourteen-word slogan of white nationalism on Coca-Cola’s Twitter feed and realised Coca Cola’s campaign was backfiring.
Gawker writer Max Read says it decided to create its own bot to tweet part of the book line-by-line at Coca-Cola.
“If we asked Coca-Cola to retweet, for example, the first four paragraphs of Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf, would it? As it turns out, yes. Gawker Editorial Labs director Adam Pash built us a bot to tweet the book line-by-line, and then tweet at Coke to #SignalBoost Hitler and #MakeItHappy.”
The responding tweets by Coca Cola turned the lines from Mein Kampf into cute images with the message “@MeinCoke we turned the hate you found into something happy. RT to make people :)”
A Coca-Cola spokesperson sent its response of the sabotage to Adweek: "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. 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. Hey @Gawker #MakeItHappy from your friends @CocaCola."