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Home » Engagement, News, Social Media Influence Conference, Social Media News

Note to marketing department: mommy bloggers get porn references, too

Submitted by on July 23, 2010 – 12:18 pm13 Comments

In the growing list of social media marketing #fails, Coca-Cola’s recently pulled Dr Pepper Facebook campaign marks a new twist on an old marketing axiom: never underestimate your most influential market — moms. Mommy bloggers trump all in influence. That much we know. The Dr Pepper campaign also proves they even understand raunchy porn references that get giggles from the guys in creative, but go over the heads of the starched shirts in marketing. Can you say, Busted!?

It’s been a week now since the press caught on to the fuss being kicked up on Mumsnet over what’s been dubbed Coca-Cola’s “Facebook porn campaign.” What happened? Let’s start from the beginning.

In trying to add a bit of edgyness to the Dr Pepper brand, Coca-Cola, which owns the trademark and distribution rights in the UK and much of Europe, recently hired London-based agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine to create a social media marketing campaign whereby fans willingly gave up the controls to their Facebook status to the good doctor (a.k.a. the agency, LMFM), all for the chance to win a grand. Self-deprecating status updates then appeared on participants’ Facebook pages included lines like:

“Lost my special blankie. How will I go sleepies?”

… and this doozie…

“I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards.”

A parent, wise to the “Two Girls, One Cup” reference, objected to seeing it as her child’s Facebook reference. Why? As most any Howard Stern fan could tell you, “Two Girls, One Cup” is the name given to a video trailer that hit the web a few years back for a scat-fetish porn flick called “Hungry Bitches.” We’ll spare you a description of this wretchedly foul video, but it’s safe to say no brand would want to be associated with the gag. As the mom herself writes:

My 14 yo dd participated and I was HORRIFIED to log into FB and see that her status read – ‘I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards’. For anyone who doesn’t know what this means, please stay ignorant, for those who do, you can imagine how I felt. This was compounded later on when a quick search through dds internet history revealed she had tried to find out what it was for herself. Thankfully, our ISP has a wonderful child filter!!

I too would caution ignorance-is-best when it comes to this video, but I do need to point out that Two Girls, One Cup does hold a significant place in net lore: it may just be the first truly viral video sensation. About three years ago, YouTubers started posting scores of home-made videos depicting a viewer’s close-up facial reactions as he/she watched the action unfold off screen. There are now thousands of such reaction videos and they’ve been viewed tens of millions of times. There are even celebrity reactions (actual and fictional mash-ups) featuring the likes of Ron Jeremy (“unbelievably disgusting,” he says), Jack Bauer (tears) and Chuck Norris (speechless). Here’s an example (we promise; it’s SFW):

You can cut the Coca-Cola marketing team some slack for not being hip to scat porn references. (A red-faced Coca-Cola PR later copped to its ignorance.) But they did commit the cardinal sin here in not bothering to vet the comments first, instead relying wholly on the cleverness of a presumably younger, hipper, more digitally-savvy outside firm known for its edge. As eConsultancy points out, LMFM big attention-grabber prior to this Facebook campaign was to punk Chat Roulette users on April Fool’s Day, leading the publication to wonder, “it wasn’t clear what the brand got out of it, other than first mover status.”

Now Coca-Cola says it’s reviewing its ties with Lean Mean Fighting Machine. At the launch of the campaign, the agency tweeted what now reads like prophetic words for itself and its client:

Stitched up, indeed. Coca-Cola looks at best clueless and at worst negligent after this incident. You have to wonder: nobody at Coke could speak up and ask, What does this “two girls one cup” reference mean? A simple Google search would have clued them in. Instead, they get angry mommy bloggers to explain it.

As of today, there are 1,320 heated responses to the Facebook Dr Pepper discussion thread on Mumsnet.com. Not surprisingly, they take Coca-Cola, not the clever twenty-somethings at Lean Mean Fighting Machine, to task. Coca-Cola has responded by apologizing for the offensive material and the social media account with LMFM is officially under review, a not so subtle finger-pointing at who Coke believes to be the real culprit here.

And that’s probably not entirely fair for the agency. Yes, it took recklessly irresponsible liberties with the brand, an absolute no-no in the agency world. But it did deliver for its client something big: a lot of buzz for a pretty flat cola brand.

Clarification: in a previous version, we included a graph showing the Facebook user gain for Dr Pepper’s Facebook page in the U.S., not Dr Pepper UK. We regret the error.

Reporting by Brian Skepys; Writing by Bernhard Warner.

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