Blogs vs Coke Astroturf Campaign

From Mel caught wind of this:

The Age article was probably the last straw. Very soon, as a Coke frontgroup was dead. Coke attempted to ‘out’ themselves, but the internet community had beaten them to the punch.

Above from Tim Longhurst. Sourcewatch called the ‘zero movement’ an ‘astroturf campaign’:


The Zero Movement is an astroturf campaign by Coca Cola to sell a new sugar-free drink called “coca cola zero” in Australia. The campaign has involved viral marketing strategies, including buying billboards and the backs of magazines for ads apparently by “The Zero Movement”, as well as putting up posters in public places [1]. There is also a website which includes a manifesto. 

Gary was concerned that blogs would not have the same political impact in Australia as they have had in the US. I agree with Gary on a lot of things, but it was only a matter of time before there was an example of the blogosphere working in relation to the ‘old media’ media institutions to have a political effect. I think the response to the ‘zero movement’ is an example of this happening as the negative attention from the internet community has seemingly contributed to Coke’s action to change the site.

From the Age article:

Mr Honeywill says Coke’s “zero movement” targets the tech-savvy, brand-conscious and motivated generation Ys, or “neos” – those 4.5 million Australians born between 1978 and 1994 who make up 24 per cent of the population and have more than half the discretionary spending power. […]
“But these brands find it very hard to reach and motivate neos through traditional media, because they’re not influenced by traditional media. Ninety-eight per cent of them are online, for example.”[…]
But creating a movement or brand that will hook a well-informed and critical market is no easy task. Already this type of “below the line” marketing has its critics, who – not surprisingly – voice their distaste on blogs. […] According to the blogger’s musings on “(It’s) pretending to be something it’s not, pretending to be ‘street’ and non-commercial when it’s just, like everything else, trying to sell us another f***king product.” […]
“These neos are vicious if they are conned,” Mr Honeywill says. “If they find out they have been conned, they have better networks in spreading the word than anybody else on the planet, so there is a danger with not being authentic with them.” 

Fuck. I burst out laughing when I read that. Vicious. Conned. Networks. I think the only people who have been conned are the people in charge of logitistical distribution of Coke’s image when they listened to the ‘creative’ who had the half-arsed idea to try to emulate the ‘street’ buzz.

I still need to write that rejoinder to that ‘Cool’ book, but here is a tip for the Coke-man. Thinking about it in terms of ‘authenticity’ is the wrong way to do it. The concept of ‘authenticity’ implies that there is something real and something fake and perhaps a continuum of real/fake between them, and that to be authentic means to be more on the ‘real’ end of the spectrum than the ‘fake’ end. Firstly, it is odd that we have a spokesperson from a company whose tagline is (or was) ‘the real thing’ telling us it is ‘about’ authenticity… Second, Coke-man, never use the word authenticity again. Not because you work for a ‘bad’ company and you are, in fact, evil, but because most people have figured out when a company starts talking about ‘authenticity’ they are referring to a model of reality that the company is in fact attempting to create through advertising and so on.

Enter the recent advertising campaigns for Coke that told us what it ‘really’ was to be a rock fan (see Mel’s blog post about the rock campaign here) or what summer ‘really’ is about. In the cases of the ‘summer’ and ‘rock’ campaigns the marketers working for Coke did a really good job of deciphering the cultural model of what it was to be a rock fan or what it was to experience summer in Australia (if you are anglo, young, good looking and don’t have to work).

These cultural models have to develop and grow over time. ‘Time’ being human frames of reference that take years, if not generations, to develop, not ‘time’ being the hegemonic time of global capital. What drugs were the people at Coke on to authorise the zeromovement campaign? Seriously! It is such a half-arsed attempt. Why do they not do something that captures a kernel of truth in their ‘authenticity’ rather than attempt to fabricate some idiotic shit… that even has a manifesto!!! A manifesto is written by someone with passion and the clarity of purpose, not something created in the cocaine addled brain of a Melbourne creative.

OK, enough time on this stupid shit. Back to PhD and my overdue draft chapter.

EDIT: Forgot to mention my suggestion to Coke for their next campaign. From the comments to Mel’s post:

i wonder if coke ever thought that they should spend some of their massive fuckin profits on something good for the world. no one has to drink coke, there is no rule about it. I normally drink water, but i would actually buy a coke every now and then if I knew some percentage of the profits was actually going to help people, maybe pay off some global debt to rectify the catastrophic post-war attempt to ‘develop’ ‘developing’ nations. Think of the equation this way: 

How many people are driven away from mutltinational companies and their products because of stupid shit like this campaign (ie lost customers) + How much money developing this flavour of coke and ad campaign cost (ie lost money) = is this combine cost greater than the percentage of profits required before the majority of people believe that coke is doing something ‘good’ in the world. anyone got any figures on Coke’s annual revenue and profits and how much this campaign cost globally?


Call it “Coke Lefty”

The catchphrase is “It’s already red.”

I am totally serious! Maybe not about the name and catchphrase, but about the concept. Don’t invent a new Coke, just have the old Coke in two bottles. One where, say, 20% of the profit goes to rectify world debt. The other bottle where all the money goes to Coke. If the people at Coke really are capitalists, rather than imperialists, then it should be about maximising profits. So it wouldn’t take them long to figure out two things:
1) They primarily need consumers in the world. The more consumers in the world the more Coke they sell. People can only drink so much Coke. The more people with enough money to buy Coke, the greater the possibility that there will be greater number of limited-Coke drinking, but still Coke drinking, consumers. Ford discovered this in the early 20th century, hence the $5 day. The New Deal attempted to work this out on a large scale.
2) How many people do they think would choose the other Coke, or any other drink for that matter, over one that actually redistributes wealth in the world, instead of tapping into some idiotic imaginary bullshit like this zeromovement campaign.