Business Marketing

Why Coke’s parody ad is more relevant than the haters think


(Business Marketing) When Coke launched a new ad, it got mixed reviews, but there is a reason that it is extremely relevant in today’s world.


What is the Offlining Movement?

When I founded the Offlining Movement several years ago with PR guru Eric Yaverbaum, we weren’t criticizing social media. In fact, our intention wasn’t to criticize anything.

Here’s how we explained it at the time:

Why Offlining? Short answer: We persuade for a living.

We’ve devoted much of the last couple of decades to convincing you to log on, click here, call now, surf, search, pay bills in your underwear, trade from the beach, add “friends” to your digital network and, as AT&T once famously promised in their “You Will” campaign, tuck your children in from your mobile device.

Then one day we made a mistake — we looked up. We took our eyes off the screen long enough to see. We noticed we had kids and wives. We took in the way leaves open their faces to the sun. We reacquainted ourselves with the sounds birds make. And we realized these things could no longer compete.

We marketers had won!

All around us, all the heads in all the malls, airports and train stations seemed bowed in reverence to the device. Life had become multi-screen, multi-task, multi-plexed, mashed-up, an unrelieved contest for diminishing attention. And those who use the media professionally were perhaps the most inundated of all.

Mark’s dad designed integrated circuits, from the first speed dial to a giant particle accelerator. He used to say, “We invent technology to be our servant, not our master.”

So, we decided to strike a blow for mastery, with the aim of tilting the balance and putting humanity back on top where we belong.

We’re not fundamentalists. We’re not anti-marketing. In fact, we love marketing and we respect its power, which is why we’re committed to applying our expertise to the important things. And we’re not anti-technology — on the contrary, we love technology and all it can do for us. But we’re only going to enjoy those benefits if we learn to use the Off Button.”

We simply wanted to “sell the Off Button” — to persuade people to plan a little bit of “offline time.”


Fast forward to today

Even then, we knew that we would be tapping into a feeling that many in our target audience already felt.

In short, we all know that happiness waits for us if we can only lift our eyes above the horizon of our mobile devices. We also hunger for the full attention of people in our lives who are otherwise occupied nearly all of the time. It’s a modern, first world problem. We don’t know what to do about it, so we might as well laugh — and having our realities reflected back to us in entertaining ways feels a lot like being noticed.

Enter CocaCola, a brand that is committed to “opening happiness.” This Offlining insight is the perfect intersection of happiness and social content, and CocaCola is seizing the opportunity with verve in the form of “The Social Media Guard.”

This is very funny and socially relevant stuff. It is patently absurd — but obviously so — yet it taps into feelings that are very real that have been bubbling just below the surface for a long time.

I know from long experience that whoever brings up our deeply conflicted feelings about our social media behavior within the medium of social media will elicit a range of reactions.

The truth at the core makes this add up to more than sugar and bubbles.

Good one, Coke.

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