Coke Mocks Social-Media Addiction

by , Feb 24, 2014, 1:55 PM
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In an age when every big brand seems to be falling over itself to build up its social media fan base and produce viral videos and tweet funny during the Super Bowl, a little contrary opinion can be refreshing. In this case, the “pause that refreshes” comes courtesy of Coca-Cola, which is mocking us like mangy dogs for our collective social media addiction.

No, really: Coca-Cola thinks we should start wearing those Elizabethan cones veterinarians put on dogs after surgery to prevent them from licking their stitches. Except in our case, it’s to prevent us from constantly checking our smartphones so we can actually interact with each other in the real world.

Of course, what better way to enjoy the company of a good friend than a nice, ice-cold Coke?

Since first appearing on YouTube late last week, the ad for the “Coca-Cola Social Media Guard” -- designed to prevent people from looking down at their phones -- has racked up well over 2 million views, more than 13,000 thumbs up (about a thousand thumbs down), and more than 4,000 comments.

Setting aside some obvious ironies (e.g., the video went viral on social media, and Coca-Cola is peddling something just as addictive and possibly worse for your health), it’s a funny video. The images of people ignoring each other to stare at their smartphones hit home. Maybe it will even prompt some people to moderate their social media and mobile activities. Or not. 

With all their convivial associations, beverages just seem to “go with” social media conceptually, and if you can get some kind of prop involved, even better.

Beyond the dog collar gag, the bigger joke is that Coca-Cola needs social media more than ever to counter continuing declines in soda sales in North America and slowing growth in international markets. In fact, as part of a broader commitment to increase its marketing spend by upwards of $1 billion by 2016, Coke chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent recently vowed to focus on media investments by “maximizing systems optimization.” At least, in part, that will most likely mean better user of new and existing social media channels.

Last year, Budweiser Brazil invented the “Buddy Cup,” which incorporates a microchip and QR code to let you friend someone simply by bumping glasses with them. Developed by advertising agency Agencia Africa and design firm Bolha, the cup had a QR code on the bottom, which barflies can scan with their smartphone, using a special app from Budweiser, which links the cup to their Facebook profile.

More recently, across the pond, PepsiCo is inviting British consumers to submit Vines showing themselves doing something that defies imagination, along with the hashtag #LiveForNow. The best Vines will appear on a network of digital billboards operated by Ocean Outdoor in seven big cities across the UK. The campaign was created in collaboration with OMD, Talon Outdoor, AMV BBDO, Jaywing and Grand Visual.

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