When it comes to corporate tweeting, it seldom gets more off-brand than Mein Kampf. But sure enough, earlier today Coca-Cola sent out an unfortunate series of Adolf Hitler-inspired tweets to its nearly 3 million followers.
No, it wasn’t a closet white supremacist Coke intern gone ballistic. Rather, the questionable tweets were the result of the company’s #MakeItHappy social media campaign, which asked followers to reply to others’ negative tweets with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. From there, Coke has been auto-generating cutesy ASCII art from the text of said tweets and then sharing it with the tagline, “We turned the hate you found into something happy. RT to make people :).”
In this particular case, the tweet used was a quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf declaring that: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” (Update: as Fast Company writer Jay Cassano points out, the quote is more commonly attributed to convicted terrorist and white supremacist David Lane.) Coke’s tweet has since been deleted, and the campaign appears to be suspended.
Well, of course this happened. Anytime a brand opens up an even partially automated social media campaign to mass participation, tomfoolery will occur. (See exhibit one million here.) And to be fair, the Mein Kampf text-art was solicited for apparent shits and giggles by Gawker writer Caity Weaver, whose colleagues proceeded to have more white nationalist-fueled fun at Coke’s expense.
Still, there’s something about seeing one of the world’s most recognizable brands tweeting out white supremacist ASCII art that would leave any social media manager wondering what safeguards could have been taken. Oh well, maybe next time.