Coca-Cola’s "Open Happiness" global marketing campaign kicked off in January 2009, when Cee Lo Green and Janelle Monae appeared in a music video that exclusively debuted on FOX's American Idol.
A year later, the "Open Happiness" theme took a tangible, and unforgettable form — a vending machine that appeared in the common room of St. John’s University in New York. It was rigged to dispense flowers, pizza and a six-foot sub resulting in a viral swish of happiness, generating more than 1 million views in the first week and still attracting comments 2 million views later.
The campus Coke machine stunt migrated to London, and morphed into a Hug Machine at the National University of Singapore in a gestural marketing stunt where a squeeze yielded a soda. Since then the Coca-Cola Happiness machine has popped up in local activations around the world, in markets including India, Buenos Aires, Indonesia, Tokyo, Istanbul for a special Valentine's Day stunt, and back to Singapore, this time promoting recycling in June.
Beyond the interactive Coke Machines, Open Happiness delivery trucks have dispensed Coke and other unexpected surprises in Brazil, the Philippines, Honduras, Russia, Canada, Kenya, Hungary, South Africa, Ecuador, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, and Hong Kong.
Continuing its surprise Live Happiness events, Coke recently parked a food truck, famous chef Simone Rugiati and an overflowing table in the middle of a Neapolitan square in to serve passersby (at top). "It was all done rather spontaneous," commented Naked Communication’s executive creative director Casper Willer to FastCoCreate. "All the characters are local people that were basically drawn by the rumor on the streets and the music coming from our harmonicon and guitarist.”
In other twists on the guerrilla marketing campaign, the brand installed an “Interactive Happiness Machine” at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport International Terminal 1. The machine was fitted with a 47-inch touchscreen panel beckoning customers to buy a coke, and as they approached, it switched to a product display screen. Coca-Cola Japan also launched a promotion for all of its vending machines where customers could find a “Happy Can” with one of three non-sandwich prizes.
Priming young European music lovers for its London 2012 Olympics sponsorship, earlier this year Coca-Cola pumped up its "Move to the Beat" 2012 Summer Olympics campaign to Belgium with a dance-activated version of its gift-giving Happiness machine. The Coca-Cola Company capped the Olympics with its biggest vending machine pop-up to date, and the biggest giveaway of its kind in the brand's UK history.
Earlier this summer, at its global HQ in Atlanta, a Happiness Machine delivered surprises to visitors at the World of Coca-Cola, celebrating the attraction's fifth anniversary as guests walked away with one of nearly 4,000 prizes such as sporting goods, coolers and digital cameras.
“Unlike in the past, people now can plan to visit a Coca-Cola Happiness Machine,” stated Russell Jacobs, General Manager of Retail and Attractions for The Coca-Cola Company. “With this machine, the question is no longer where will happiness strike again, but when — and who knows, you might be next.”
This month, Coca-Cola is testing a different kind of giveaway and generosity on its Coke machines, adding a "donation option" on its vending machines in Atlanta. The partnership with the American Red Cross is letting consumers make a donation via credit or debit card while purchasing a drink.
Coca-Cola is also trying to Open Happiness across Facebook. To mark its record-breaking 50 millionth Facebook "Like" the brand introduced a Sharing Happiness app on its Facebook page, fans can spread happiness and become part of a larger community behind a social innovation to be piloted in 2013.
"This new program is the next step in fan culture and we are glad to support Coca-Cola in this effort," stated Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in the Sept. 4th press release. "Coca-Cola understands the value of communicating directly with its most ardent supporters in an authentic way that helps make the world more open and connected."
From the real world to the digital world, the Coca-Cola brand continues pairing spontaneity and action to deliver doses of happiness in a world thirsty for just that.