Coca-Cola has somehow seen a growth in sales in today’s health conscious world thanks to their #ShareACoke campaign, which prints a different name on every bottle and can of Coke, leading many to search out a beverage with their name on it. Cokes sales have increased for the first time in ten years, making it one of the most successful viral stunts in recent memory. Other’s weren’t so lucky and saw their shot at viral fame end up hurting their company. Here are the anti-#ShareACoke campaigns.
General Motors paired up with the hit NBC show, ‘The Apprentice in 2006 by allowing viewers of the show to create their own Chevy commercial online by placing music and their own text over different Chevy Tahoe footage. This resulted in the inevitable internet buffoonery, which saw dozens of “ads” being plastered on their website that bashed the car. After a few weeks, the video’s were removed, though you can still watch some of them on YouTube.
2008 saw Frito-Lay try their hand at really viral marketing by creating a website that told visitors to commit “Random Acts of Cheetos” by rubbing rubbing Cheeto dust on people or leaving the messy snack in places they shouldn’t be (People’s clothes, electronics, etc.). This would have angered many, had anyone actually cared. The campaign that was expected to go everywhere only wound up on 17 blogs and left surfaces orange-less. Bring back that animatronic cheetah, he’s sort of funny.
Coors Light is known recently for their bottles that feature blue mountains on the label that show up when your beer is cold enough. This wasn’t enough for the beer company, who decided to create multiple Facebook and Myspace sites so you can alert your friends when your beer is cold. Since the real world isn’t like a beer commercial and people actually have fridges, the campaign was a bust.
Adult Swim’s ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ had the bright idea back in 2007 to advertise the cartoon guerrilla style by placing small, glowing billboards on buildings and bridges across the country. This panicked the Boston police, who shut down several of the cities major highways for several hours. Turner Broadcasting was fined $2 million for the stunt, while teens everywhere thought is was the coolest thing ever.
2006 saw the creation of a blog entitled ‘Wal-Marting Across America’, featuring a couple named Laura and Jim on their RV trip to Vegas (with free overnight parking in Wal-Mart parking lots). That may have been slightly believable if it weren’t for the constant stream of happy Wal-Mart employees that they met along the way. This tipped off many people, who discovered that “Jim” was actually a photographer for the Washington Post and the whole stunt was being paid for by Wal-Mart to make up for bad press.
Toyota really wanted to see some Matrix’s roll off the lot back in 2009 and did so by creating the game entitled “The Other You”, a stunt that saw users being stalked by a unknown assailant over the internet who has your email and home address. One such person was Amber Duick, who sued Toyota for $10 million after she was harassed and told to pay damages to a hotel room that wasn’t really damaged. Toyota claimed that the stunt was aimed at 20-something males who enjoy pranking each other. How do you prank people in Japan?