Trolls hijack Coca-Cola's new ad campaign with 'diabeetus' GIFs
Twitter and Tumblr teach Coca-Cola — once again — that crowdsourced internet campaigns are a really bad idea
Time and again, we see legacy brands attempting to court millennials online with hashtag-centric, participatory social media marketing campaigns.
And time and again, we see those same campaigns get mocked, hijacked, and twisted beyond belief by people who use services like Twitter for reasons other than being exposed to marketing messages.
Will the brands ever learn?
It's a question many have been asking for years, and one without a definitive answer, because many continue to "ignore the trolls," much to their delight.
Coca-Cola GIF maker provides a valuable lesson to brands on why you should never let the Internet customise anything <a href="https://t.co/YpIz0JheFS">pic.twitter.com/YpIz0JheFS</a>—@AndrewBloch
In February 2015, Coca-Cola was forced to withdraw its #MakeItHappy Twitter campaign when pranksters tricked the company into tweeting out chunks of text from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Public health advocates trolled Coke similarly in September of last year by ordering a custom bottle through the company's #ShareACoke campaign. "Share a Coke with Obesity," read the bottle's label — which promptly went viral.
Apparently undeterred, the soft-drink juggernaut is once again asking people online to participate in an interactive global marketing campaign by creating their own Coke-themed GIFs.
GIFtheFeeling.com is a microsite that allows anyone to select a clip from Coca-Cola's new "Taste The Feeling" music video, overlay it with words of their choosing and share it on the social networks of their choice.
"How does Coca-Cola make you feel?" prompts the website when users first arrive. "Click on any GIF, type what you feel, and share it with the world."
Examples provided by Coke include words like "excited" and "energized," but the vast majority of people sharing GIFs using the campaign's hashtag are choosing cheekier taglines.
As The Atlantic notes, Coca-Cola's "Profanity API" forbids many terms from being used within the GIF creator — curse words, descriptions of violence and "diabetes" among them.
First attempt to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFthefeeling?src=hash">#GIFthefeeling</a>, unsuccessful. <a href="https://t.co/E9YYSbZ9uj">pic.twitter.com/E9YYSbZ9uj</a>—@doritosyndrome
The internet does love a challenge.
Shortly after the GIF-maker went live last week, Twitter and Tumblr users began sharing their creations using both #GIFTheFeeling and #CocaCola.
Some are using the tool to obliquely slam Coke and bring up various issues that have been associated with its beverages.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFthefeeling?src=hash">#GIFthefeeling</a> of polydipsia, peripheral neuropathy and fatigue <a href="https://t.co/nGi0Ahp9Vv">pic.twitter.com/nGi0Ahp9Vv</a>—@Scatterfold
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFthefeeling?src=hash">#GIFthefeeling</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/notplayingalong?src=hash">#notplayingalong</a> <a href="https://t.co/qNSZ3qI13A">pic.twitter.com/qNSZ3qI13A</a>—@james_r_mcgrath
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFthefeeling?src=hash">#GIFthefeeling</a> <a href="https://t.co/kUa3B86Ppr">pic.twitter.com/kUa3B86Ppr</a>—@Omegatheroyal
Others have gotten darker with terms like "Benghazi" and "Heil Satan" and the names of various sexually transmitted diseases.
Social commentary has been popular, too.
A caucasian male got the job. <a href="https://twitter.com/CocaCola">@CocaCola</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SJW?src=hash">#SJW</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLM?src=hash">#BLM</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFthefeeling?src=hash">#GIFthefeeling</a> <a href="https://t.co/HdYWCrslI3">pic.twitter.com/HdYWCrslI3</a>—@TimRunsHisMouth
How everyone feels but they just don't know it <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/tastethefeeling?src=hash">#tastethefeeling</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GIFtheFeeling?src=hash">#GIFtheFeeling</a> <a href="https://t.co/QKgYiUngFT">pic.twitter.com/QKgYiUngFT</a>—@mst_mihaela
Thanks for the GIF maker, <a href="https://twitter.com/CocaCola">@CocaCola</a> <a href="https://t.co/m2wY4mYXyT">pic.twitter.com/m2wY4mYXyT</a>—@joshelliott14
Most people, however, have been using the GIF maker simply to make weird, funny stuff.