Coca-Cola’s new “Happiness Machine” video – the brand’s first global video produced exclusively for viral distribution – has racked up more than 729,000 views since launching on YouTube on January 12th. Produced by Atlanta’s Definition 6, the video ties into Coke’s global “Open Happiness” campaign, and has not been used in TV ads. Its distribution and marketing thereof has been limited to a global Tweet and Facebook page announcement.
According to A.J. Brustein, a global senior brand manager at Coca-Cola, the video was conceived as a way to connect with teens and young adults outside of TV ads and online games. Brustein adds,
We wanted to give them something that would spread a bit of happiness and something they could pass on to their friends to keep the happiness flowing.
What makes this video unique – and relevant to the industry – is that it marks the brand’s first global viral effort. While some local Coca-Cola markets have produced videos intended for viral distribution (a Christmas video done in Mexico, for instance), this is the iconic brand’s first global foray into a purely viral, digital engagement – without the support of high-reach TV media.
Coke’s hope is that this first viral effort will be deemed successful enough to lead to others. It may also serve as an additional case study for brands – and an industry – already looking to digital efforts to deliver against targeted objectives at which TV (and its oftentimes distracted audience) falls short.
Coca-Cola and Unilever are shifting their digital focus away from traditional campaign sites and towards community platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, as social media begins to dictate their marketing activity in 2010.
The FMCG giants are moving away from sites created on a campaign-by-campaign basis in favour of investment in existing communities. While both companies will continue to create campaign sites for certain brands in the immediate future, they have said the long-term future lies with social media on platforms populated by their target consumers.
Coca-Cola will position its official Facebook and YouTube pages as the lead online channels for upcoming international activity for its Coke Zero and Fanta brands, new media age understands.
Facebook and Twitter are, of course, increasingly trying to prove that they can be real, self-sustaining businesses with meaningful revenues, and maybe even consistently positive cash flow. Good for them!
ZUCKERBERG: Has his company really 'turned evil'?
--> But what about the rest of us -- the great unwashed masses of social-media addicts? What are we getting out of the deal?
Before we get too far into this new decade, let's pull back a second and ask: Are we all just toiling mightily to make a bunch of rich nerds (Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his employees and investors, Twitter's Biz Stone and Evan Williams and their employees and investors) richer, while we impoverish ourselves?
I'm not trying to be melodramatic here. For one thing, both Twitter and Facebook are demonstrably robbing us of our privacy -- and the sole ownership of our own thoughts, emotions, personal expressions, etc. (Or, rather, we're sitting back and allowing the theft to occur.) Last September in a column titled "Twitter: A Vampire That Can Legally Suck the Life Out of You," I wrote that Twitter had made little-noticed changes to its TOS (Terms of Service) that give it the right to do whatever it wants with your tweets. Though you "retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services," that's merely a technicality, because if you use Twitter you're automatically giving it "a worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)." And sure enough, after my column was published, Twitter ended up doing deals to license its data stream -- your and my tweets -- to Google and Bing for their search engines.
Meanwhile, Facebook got all sneaky with its TOS at the end of the year. If you haven't yet read Ryan Tate's Dec. 14 Valleywag post titled "Facebook's Great Betrayal," it's a great place to start to understand how Facebook suddenly changed its business relationship with you. "Facebook's privacy pullback isn't just outrageous," Tate begins, "it's a landmark turning point for the social network. ... The company has, in short, turned evil."
But privacy isn't all we're giving away.
As of this writing, Twitter has just 156 employees. Facebook currently says it has "1,000+" employees -- a shockingly tiny work force for a site with 350 million active users. Neither company needs a lot of warm bodies because you and I are doing most of the work: perpetually creating and uploading vast amounts of fresh content that Twitter and Facebook can do with as they please.
Think of these companies as the Walmarts of the 21st century -- behemoths that steamroller American (and global) culture, radically reconfigure communities big and small, and take share from everyone else (in their case, media mindshare) -- only they have an almost all-volunteer work force. And you're one of the volunteers.
If you track Social Media news, I'm sure you saw the eye-catching headline: "Pepsi's Big Gamble: Ditching Super Bowl for Social Media". For the first time in 23 years--23 years!--the brand will not be purchasing a Super Bowl spot. Instead, it is sinking $20M into a Social Media program called Pepsi Refresh. The Pepsi Refresh site will allow people to vote for worthwhile community projects, and Pepsi expects to sponsor thousands of local efforts via this program.
What does this news mean to marketers? Some potential ramifications (and non-ramifications) include:
Thirteen different videos reached the top of the Viral Video Chart since its debut in April, and Visible Measures, which compiles the data for the weekly chart, pulled out the 10 most viewed. Marketers that hit No. 1 but didn't have the numbers to make this chart included Carl's Jr., Vodafone and Moveon.org.
Evian, in the top spot, nabbed more than 50 million views of its roller-skating babies; T-Mobile's "Dance" and Microsoft's "Project Natal" both scored more than 20 million views and the remaining campaigns all topped 10 million views.
Among the lessons from this list?
Viral video is not solely the domain of big-budget brands. While Microsoft was the only marketer to have a pair of spots in this list, Air New Zealand and DC Shoes were right up there as well.
Visible Measures points out the mix of industries represented on the list: technology, CPG, telecom, sports/entertainment, automotive and travel. So those folks telling you a boring package-food brand can't play in the space? They must not be among the 50 million who viewed Evian's campaign.
Breaking down the creative, there's a bias toward stunts but also a general sense of light-heartedness. Not all the campaigns were humorous, per se, but they definitely instilled a sense of wonder or invoked a smile.