Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Tired and in need of a refreshment? Push the button and get a drink… and so much more! [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

October 22, 2020

What comes into your mind when you hear the words “spreading happiness”?

Donating to charity?

A contagious smile?

Going on an out-of-town trip with your loved ones?

Spreading happiness can be anything. Anyone can do that in their own ways… even businesses!

Check out how this beverage company had its share of DISPENSING little moments of happiness to the people who were directly involved in its campaign.

The Coca-Cola Company is an American multinational beverage corporation that is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It manufactures the Coca-Cola, or Coke, which was invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton.

Other products that the company produces include Sprite, Fanta, Schweppes, Appletiser, Fresca, and Barq’s.

As of 2020, The Coca-Cola Company manufactures, retails, and markets non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. It offers over 500 brands to more than 200 countries across the globe.

The “Happiness Machine” Campaign

According to a study conducted by the Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Coke is one of the best-known brands in the world and the sixth largest advertiser based on dollars spent.

Despite that fact, the company still thought that it needed a cost-effective way to build deeper connections with consumers, especially teenagers.

Using its own research that 73% of American teens were “voracious consumers of social media,” Coke hypothesized that leveraging its digital social media platforms will enable the company to better connect with young consumers.

After months of researching and brainstorming, Coke decided that the way to reach its young consumers was to build a viral marketing campaign about happiness.

With the help of digital marketing agency Definition 6, the campaign team launched seven different campaign activations that used various types of digital media, namely:

  • Two “Spin the Coke” applications for iOS and Android mobile phones
  • Two applications for Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut
  • One “goodies” package that included digital wallpapers, screensavers, and emoticons
  • One Windows 7 template
  • One video

The most successful activation of Coke’s campaign was the “Happiness Machine” video, which was launched in January 2010.

The video included footage of an “unusual” Coca-Cola vending machine that was installed in the cafeteria of St. John’s University in New York. This took place during the final exam period of students in the university.

While the vending machine seemed like a normal machine, Coke fashioned it into a “Happiness Machine” to share a dose of happiness to St. John’s University students.

According to Definition 6 Creative Director Paul Iannacchino, the campaign team took a working vending machine and re-fashioned it in order to achieve their goal. They had to build a secret room in St. John’s cafeteria during a weekend so students would just think of it as a normal construction in the university.

That was not all that was up the campaign team’s sleeves…

Iannacchino stated that Coke wanted the campaign to be magical but didn’t want to reveal the secret behind it. In order to accomplish this, those involved in the campaign had to make the students believe that it was just a normal Coke vending machine.


By asking a campus janitor to unlock the machine, open it, and fill it with bottles of Coke inside!

Setting up the scene that way helped the campaign team create an organic reaction from the students who would be surprised by the “Happiness Machine” later on.

On the night before the machine was fully operational, a few of Coke’s staff installed hidden cameras in the campus cafeteria to record the students’ reactions.

Where Will Happiness Strike Next?

On the first fully operational day of the “Happiness Machine,” students approached the machine thinking their money would only be used to buy a bottle of Coke. What came after they pressed the “Coke” button was a surprise, since the machine dispensed a few things that made the students jump out of joy!

In just two days of filming, the hidden cameras captured authentic reactions from students who were directly impacted by the campaign.

Under different circumstances, the “Happiness Machine” dispensed an array of “goodies” such as pizzas, sunglasses, and… A 12-FOOT LONG SUBMARINE SANDWICH!

The happiness didn’t stop there as the vending machine gave out bouquets of sunflowers, surprising a few of the students who received it.

Of course, Coke wouldn’t let their flagship product pass. The vending machine also dispensed 20 bottles of Coke ALL AT ONCE.

Think about being surprised like that!

Coke then ended its campaign video with the question, “Where will happiness strike next?”


The “Happiness Machine” video was uploaded by Coke on its official YouTube channel and announced it with a single Facebook status update. Ten days after the announcement, the video already had 1 million views.

In April 2010, the video garnered over 2.2 million views. Coke found out that approximately 50% of the viewers were from countries outside the US and more than 70% of the blog posts that were published about the video were in non-English languages.

The video had its highest penetration in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and Russia.

As for the other campaign activations, Coke recorded over 1 million downloads for its “Spin the Coke” application for iOS phones alone and over 2 million downloads for its Windows 7 template.

Coke and Definition 6 were also awarded CLIO’s Prestigious Gold Interactive Award at the 51st Annual Awards in New York City for their “Happiness Machine” Campaign.

According to Wendy Clark, Coke’s Senior Vice President at Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities, “Happiness is contagious. When you see people smiling, you want to smile.”

More than all the material things that the “Happiness Machine” dispensed, what Coke really gave away was a “sense of happiness” that created an emotional connection with the brand.

Given that the students at St. John’s University were in their final exam period, the timing of the machine was perfect, serving as a way to ease the pressure that the students were feeling at that time.

These little moments of happiness were enough to touch the lives of students who felt too stressed and caught up in their academics.

Make your brand a reason for your target market’s smile too!

Sharing happiness doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be just a small encouraging note, a freebie, a promo package―anything!

As long as it has the capacity to make your target market smile, it’s worth it.

What are you waiting for?

Get motivated with Coke’s “Happiness Machine” Campaign and be your own ray of sunshine to your target market’s day!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Friday: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing is inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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