USA – The original
A Coca-Cola vending machine is transformed into a happiness machine delivering “doses” of happiness. Where will happiness strike next?
The Coca-Cola Happiness Machine made an appearance at the Kansas Union on the University of Kansas campus Monday, October 25, 2010.
The Ohio Union had a special vending machine provided by Coca-Cola on November 8, 2010. Open Happiness! As always, it was a great day at the Ohio Union!
Bowen-Thompson Student Union, Bowling Green State University, November 10, 2010
Coca-Cola is unleashing happiness again, this time in the UK! The much-anticipated sequel to the global internet sensation — the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine which caught the world’s imagination earlier this year with one million views in the first week alone.
A Coca-Cola Happiness machine found it’s way to Byporten shopping mall in Oslo to bring some happiness to the Norwegians!
Brazil, MTV 20th Anniversary Event
Rio de Janeiro
Thapar University, Patiala
DAV College, Chandigarh
How Coca-Cola created It’s Happiness Machine (Interview)
By Meaghan Edelstein
Most big brands don’t share the secrets behind how they create hugely successful web videos. For the first time ever, Coke executives and leaders at Definition 6, the agency responsible for the award-winning “Happiness Machine” video, reveal the secret ingredients that made it such a success.
Global Senior Brand Manager for Coca-Cola, AJ Brustein, Definition 6 Director of Interactive Strategy, Paul McClay and Definition 6 Creative Director Paul Iannacchino take us through the making of Coke’s “Happiness Machine.”
Coming up with a Brilliant Idea
Q: What was Coke’s goal? What was Coke looking for when they decided to create a web video?
Brustein: Coke’s original goal was to beef up its digital activation platform.The plan was to release seven different pieces of content, iPhone and social media applications, wallpaper screen savers and a video that we hoped would go viral. “The Happiness Machine” web video started out as just a piece of digital content, a dose of happiness.
Q: How did your team come up with the “Happiness Machine” concept?
Iannacchino: The process started with a large brainstorming session. Three ideas turned into a pitch that was taken back to Coke and “The Happiness Machine” was selected. Over the course of sixty days we used story boards to refine the piece. We had a strong core idea, but needed to develop the story. Our device was the Coke machine. Location, we needed to be entrenched in Coke’s demographic. Finally we had to ask ourselves, how is the narrative going to play out? How will we get people to approach the machine? How will we make it appear as normal as possible? And, how do we get escalation?
McClay: We came up with the idea over Falafel sandwiches on a sunny deck. It was a fun collaboration. The brainstorming and ideation began with a well-defined framework of constraints and set of objectives provided by Coke. Otherwise we were given free reign. We wanted to provide a message that would resonate with the target audience.
3 Tips for coming up with a Brilliant Idea
- A good story takes time to develop. Take the time to brainstorm your idea and let it develop into something people will relate to and want to share, Iannacchino said.
- Look at videos online to see what’s successful and what isn’t. Most often the most successful web videos have something that provokes a reaction, Brustein said.
- The brainstorming process has to be fun, light hearted and uncontrolled. You never really know when a good idea is going to come up. Often the best ideas end up being the small snippets that came up throughout the process, McClay said.
What to Do with Your Brilliant Idea
Q: After Coke approved the “Happiness Machine,” what was the next step? How did the idea shape into a real experience?
Brustein: Coke’s goal was to create an organic experience. Other than the janitor loading the machine, nothing was scripted. If the video had been scripted, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. The girl mouthing “Oh My God,” students helping each other lift the huge sub, hugging the Coke machine — these true moments are what gave the video life.
Q: How did you create an organic reaction?
Iannacchino: Coke wanted the machine to be magical but didn’t want to reveal the secret behind the magic. To accomplish this we had to show it was a normal Coke machine. The janitor unlocked the machine leaving the door wide open while he loaded bottles of Coke inside. This created a misdirect for the audience, leaving everyone to believe the machine was authentic. Setting up the scene this way helped create an organic reaction which relayed the magic of the brand.
Q: People may think the success of this video was due to Coke giving away free stuff to college students. Do you believe this is true?
Iannacchino: We would argue that it was the element of surprise, not that somebody got animal balloons or two Cokes instead of one. What Coke really gave away was a sense of happiness which created an emotional connection with the brand. Students involved in this video were caught up in their everyday lives, and this little moment touched them. We used free stuff to surprise people but what we gave away was happiness and a smile. The key is engagement, whether you were there or just watching, free stuff was just the catalyst.
McClay: Giving away free stuff wasn’t what resonated with the audience at the end of the day. After doing testing we found it was the students’ expressions of happiness and the way they reacted that people enjoyed. You can film people being given free stuff all day long and it will fall flat on the audience. The way people react is what matters.
3 Tips for Executing your Idea
- Simplicity and starting with a great idea is the key. You have to get it out of your head that if you make it they will watch it, Iannacchino said.
- Brainstorm. Once your team feels strongly about an idea, challenge one another to make it better. You can always improve the idea up until the day you shoot, Iannacchino added.
- Where you have a wide dispersed team it’s important for everyone to be looped in, briefed and approving things through the entire process so there is always forward momentum with positive energy, McClay said.
Putting it all Together
Q: How did you put it all together?
Iannacchino: The first thirty days we ramped up into production. The web video was set to launch January 1, 2010 and we began shooting in early December. We took a working Coke vending machine and re-built it to do the things we wanted it to. There wasn’t a big budget for this project — mostly sweat equity.
Q: How did you pick the location?
Iannacchino: Location was key. We had to find a space that was entrenched in Coke’s demographic. We knew we wanted a college campus but it couldn’t be just any campus. The college we picked had to be Coke affiliated, on board with our idea with heavy foot traffic by students and have a space that would allow for the important element of secrecy.
St. John’s University ended up being the perfect location. We built a secret room in their cafeteria over a weekend so it looked like construction to the students. Because we did it this way no one asked any questions.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced?
Iannacchino: Going back and tweaking the story, finding the perfect location, and building of the actual “Happiness Machine.” Lots of things didn’t work but that was okay. Imagine a eight by fifteen foot room for two days, with five cameras, planning for the worst and hoping for the best!
SECRET: The sub — we only had one, so there was one shot to get it right. The giant sub ended up being the item that punctuated the story.
2 Tips for Putting it All Together
- Technology and digital space, as well as equipment, are cheap and accessible. Use this to your advantage, Iannacchino said.
- Be invested in your idea. Plan and prepare to execute your video well, Iannacchino added.
Getting It to Go Viral
Q: How much did Coke spend to promote the video?
Brustein: Coke spent zero on promoting “The Happiness Machine.” One status update was posted on Coke’s Facebook Page, one tweet and that was it. Within a day the video was picked up by bloggers and it spread from there. Of course we could have bought views but the experiment succeeded without any promotion.
Q: What was the process to get the video to go viral?
Iannacchino: We uploaded the web video to Coke’s YouTube channel on day one. The video then moved through the advertising trades before it picked up steam with consumers. In the first five days there were seven hundred thousand visits and in the first week one million. It hit the top of the viral video chart that week.
Q: Why do you think “The Happiness Machine” video went viral?
McClay: Something being viral wasn’t the strategy, but instead it was a possible outcome. The strategy was to produce great creative content that resonated and wasn’t a hard hitting commercial. We wanted it to have pass-along value and never intended to seed it with paid dollars. It was all about the exercise of producing creative video for online distribution. We aimed for something the audience would use and enjoy.
Q: How can other brands increase web video distribution?
McClay: Several tactical things need to be accomplished in order to get distribution. Getting bloggers to post about your video, tweets and Facebook mentions are just a few ways. But the big spikes happen when the video hits the homepage of YouTube or Yahoo.
Getting featured comes down to whether your video is creative, which is dependent upon the perception of the decision makers. The number of views is also critical. If you can create pass-along value it will increase your views. People like to share humor. When something makes me laugh, I think my friend will laugh too.
2 Tips for Getting a Video to Go Viral
- Spreadable video is important; put the same effort into your creative ideation as you would a television commercial and you will produce some amazing content. Don’t think small because the aspect ratio is, Iannacchino said. Push creative boundaries.
- If your strategy is to go viral from the outset, then it’s likely to fail, McClay said.
The key ingredients, as always, are imagination and hard work. Both Coke and Definition 6 put an enormous amount of creativity, time and energy into “The Happiness Machine.” “One thing to take a way is that it wasn’t a fluke,” Iannacchino said. “A lot of work went into it.”
The “Happiness Machine” video, the result of a collaboration between Coca-Cola and integrated interactive marketing agency Definition 6, features a Coca-Cola vending machine transformed to deliver surprising “doses” of happiness to unsuspecting college students. Chris Yates did a video interview with Chris Thornton the CMO of Defition 6.
Agency: Definition 6, Atlanta
Executive Creative Director John Harne
Director: Paul Iannacchino Jr.