Coke Zero backlash mounting online
Update: A reader sent me a link to a research report on Word of Mouth marketing, titled 'To Tell or Not to Tell?' - Disclosure & Organised Word-of-Mouth Marketing. The report by BzzAgent.com and Professor Walter Carl is availabled from here - to download
Coke Zero. It's the new sugar free product from Coca-Cola, and it's teaser campaign has used a number of alternative/emerging forms of media to spread it's message. From unbranded billboards to the spray painting of footpaths with statements such as "why can't big nights come with zero morning afters?"" and a Zero Movement website, the campaign is a distinct departure from the usual coke formula.
The result? It appears to have provoked a backlash amongst internet users for it's perceived hijacking of the weblog/community space.
One of the most contentious aspects of the teaser campaign is the formation of a so-called action group called the 'The Zero Movement'. Complete with blog and manifesto. The site has prompted a strong backlash from the blogging community, who have branded it an unwelcome intrusion that is 'dishonest'.
In a typical adbusters style, a group of users have formed another zero movement, exposing the Coke zero movement as nothing more than "a bunch of advertising wankers pretending to be a grass-roots movement". The group has hijacked the .org domain for the renegade zero movement. (let this be a lesson to advertisers who fail to secure multiple domains) and used it to promote 'real' causes, as well as using it as an opportunity to highlight some of the other coke sites out there, including Killer Coke.
The blacklash has even earned the renegade Zero Movement website a listing on the ever popular Wikipedia Coke Zero Entry
Further searches turned up a number of post on various Yahoo Forums(Sports, Movies, News) by a person named Carl from the Zero Movement. A quick search on Google how widespread some of the forum postings are, and amongst all of this are posts from users on blogs and other forums, when they realise its just one big Coke advertisement.
Has coke overstepped the mark with its invasion of the online community? Judging by the various examples above, I'd say yes. Is this the type of response Coke was looking for? I'm not entirely sure it would be. Whatever the result for Coke, there are some valuble insights and learnings here.
For more reading on this topic :
The Age : Got a cool new product? Don't tell anyone
B&T : Zero plus zero, is still zero
Consumers: 1 Coke: zero
Those Crafty Bastards
How a fake blog can become a real suicide
CBC: Flogging backfires for Coke's Zero Movement
Coke Zero blog shows almost zero understanding
Coke Lies Mislead with fake Zero
Zero Movement Loser
The Zero Movement Sucks Blog