Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fun with Coca-Cola's Ill-Conceived 'Share A Coke' Generator!

Surely, the suits at Coke had to have seen such tomfoolery coming, right?

By: Jimbo X

On one hand, I have to give the marketing department at Coca-Cola all the credit in the world for their seasonal "Share a Coke With ..." campaign. It's such a simple strategy, but oh so effective. Who'd thought that simply slapping a couple of common first names on the side of a soda label would've aroused so much consumer attention and spurred summertime sales? 

But maybe it shouldn't be that surprising. After all, such gimmicks capitalize on consumers' innate egotism, and it's the kind of commercial pornography that's just ripe for social media exploitation. And now that they're throwing out cans and bottles with surnames on 'em, it's just a matter of time until ever Tom, Dick and Susan in the country is flooding Instagram with their personal information spelled out in fizzy drink packaging form. Privacy, shmrivacy, if pushing two aluminum cans together is all it takes to get 100 likes on Facebook, the aggregate American will do it in a heartbeat. 

Which brings me to this poorly thought-out marketing ploy from the House of Sprite and Mr. Pibb. By now, we should all know that it's NEVER a good idea to give the Internet hoi polloi the ability to submit any kind of user-generated content on a company's official website or social media feed. Remember that time "Hitler Did Nothing Wrong" was selected as the official name of the latest Mountain Dew variation, or that time the New England Patriots' Twitter bots sent a shoutout to a user named "ihateniggers?" Hell, this isn't even the first time Coca-Cola has had the rug pulled out from under it using the whole "Share a Coke With..." shtick, as this article from 2015 elucidates upon. Simply put, nothing good could come from Coca-Cola re-opening its online "Share a Coke With..." bottle generator, and I took it as a personal challenge to fuck with the thing as much as humanly (and hilariously) possible.

Designing a bottle is about as simple as it gets. You get to choose from one of four different bottle designs, and you have about 20 characters to get your message across. After you're done, you can load the thing into your virtual cart and, for $5 plus shipping and handling, you can have the custom-made bottle zipped along to your home address.

Of course, the name generator does have some built-in safeguards. The really obvious stuff - the "n-word," the "f-word," Hitler, etc. - are already pre-banned, as well as the terms "fat," "diabetes" and "obesity" (gee, I wonder why?) Interestingly enough, even a couple of proper names are verboten, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, David Duke and Stalin. Even weirder, the word "black" itself is on the pre-banned list, even though "white" isn't, and even weirder than that, while "ISIS" is on the do-not-print list, "Nazis" is totally OK. So, from the get-go, we just know there's going to be a lot of gaps in their language filter, and within three minutes, I was already having a field day.

Say hello to Coke's new, limited-edition /pol/ flavored colas.

Apparently, Coca-Cola needs a refresher course on contemporary ethnic slurs. Pretty much every non-"nigger" pejorative for the black people you can think of flies by undetected, and practically every Nazi-related term that ain't "Adolf" or "Hitler" passes the smell test. 

And sometimes, you can get all three in one package!

There's a couple of other filter oddities afoot, too. For example, "obesity" all by itself is off-limits, but if you wedge a "morbid" in front of it, all of a sudden it becomes permissible for print. Similarly, you can get away with making a bottle that says "Black Panthers," but they won't let you print one that says simply "Black People." 

Something tells me that old "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" commercial would've played out way differently had they used THESE bottles.

Of course, anybody into vaporwave can already tell you there's an easy way around ALL of Coke's censorship. If you just have to have a Coca-Cola bottle in your possession that has "Hitler" or "Niggers" emblazoned upon it, all you have to do is put a single space between each letter and the filter is none the wiser. That said, consider me shocked a plenty that the formal filtering algorithms DIDN'T include "cunt" on the insta-banned word list. I mean, isn't that like a top five swear word everywhere in the Western world?

Man ... what a great idea for a sitcom!

The possibilities here are pretty much endless. Whatever offensive, deplorable or insensitive thing you can think of, Coca-Cola's half-assed censoring mechanisms are pretty much powerless to stop you from printing them. I spent an entire Saturday evening trying to conjure up the most disgusting, depraved and demeaning bottles I could, and by the end of the night I felt pretty confident that - if I truly wanted to - I could easily order a small platoon of Coca-Cola bottles lined with an endless panoply of swears and epithets. Of course, the real fun would be ordering the bottles and then sneaking them into actual businesses and slipping them into real display cases in an all-time awesome prank that would probably draw international coverage and goad Coca-Cola into issuing a never-ending stream of public apologies. 

I mean, what kind of trouble makers do you think we are, anyway?

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