Coke “Opens Happiness” With Its Viral Video

Ten days ago, Coke released a video for its ‘Open Happiness’ campaign that it hopes will become a global viral sensation. The video, titled “Happiness Machine” has so far had over 1,110,000 Youtube viewings. The effort is part of a global effort on the ‘Open Happiness’ theme that includes other social media efforts, including teams sent all over the world to identify ‘stories of happiness’.

Here is how Mediapost described the effort last week.

The video, shot on the Queens, N.Y., campus of St. John’s University, concludes with a title asking: “Where will happiness strike next?” and a message encouraging viewers to “Share the happiness, share the video.”

A.J. Brustein, global senior brand manager, Coca-Cola, says the video was conceived as a way to connect with teens and young adults outside of TV ads and online games. “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,” he sums up.

Coke acknowledges that the effort is an experiment and future videos will depend on the success of this one.

So I asked my MBA students for their opinion via our class blog, whether or not this is a good approach for a powerful brand like Coke to use to connect with younger drinkers? Three out of four liked it and thought it was a great effort. Nearly all said it had viral potential. They especially enjoyed the essential kindness of delighting others without expecting anything in return. Here’s a sample of what they had to say.

Kathryn:This video was an absolute delight to watch. I could not help smiling throughout the whole thing! Without getting far too philosophical, I think our society has somewhat forgotten that a small deed of good and happiness has powerful ramifications for people and how they feel. This campaign plays on that emotion very nicely, and in a way that connects that feeling with the product. Free Coke in a fun way = Happiness.”

Jack: “I think this campaign from coke is a great strategy for connecting with consumers. From an imaginative stand point I think it would be hard for someone to watch this video without wondering what else they were passing out, how they rigged that machine, or if they were going to do it again (hopefully at Notre Dame).”

Lindsay: “I enjoyed this commercial. It’s heartwarming to see how the unexpected presence of simple, pleasant things—extra cokes, pizza, flowers, balloon animals—can bring people together. It’s fun to watch a shared laugh become a celebration.”

Matt: “Coke = Good! (or happy) That’s all I could think of after watching this commercial… I think it does a great job of spreading the happiness vibe that Coke is trying to convey, particularly when you see the huge smiles of all of the college student’s faces. I think the video will go ‘viral’. It has that ‘wow’ factor that a lot of people (I know a lot of my friends will) share on social websites like facebook or twitter. Pure entertainment always sells. Go Coke! Keep entertaining me! I like it!”

Katie: “Loved it! The premise reminded me of a funnier version of the Liberty Mutual ads from a couple years ago – the ones showing people helping out strangers and other people seeing the “good Samaritanism” and in turn helping out someone themselves. I think that “feel good” aspect can really go far in our society…”

Suzy: “Super fun video! I think Coke did a great job creating an enjoyable, happy sentiment amongst viewers – a sentiment that can easily be associated with their brand after watching the clips and reactions of students.”

Robert: “The gratitude of the random act of kindness is innate in most of us, and this ad taps into that about as well as a large company could ever hope to. I am not cynical about this being unable to convince people to buy, no doubt in my mind this will have a significant impact on the buying habits of shoppers unconsciously.”

This effort reminds me of VW’s recent “FunTheory” viral campaign in its simplicity and appeal. The “Piano Stairs” video has already experienced over 10 million views on YouTube. Given the relatively low cost of production and media, if the Coke video is as successful, I think we can expect to see other big brands follow suit. It certainly isn’t a replacement for an ad campaign but offers a great way to amplify the message via social media.