Viral review: Coca-Cola World Cup ad is good but not great

Coca-Cola: tries to bring harmony to rival fans in Milan through a vending machine
Coca-Cola: tries to bring harmony to rival fans in Milan through a vending machine

Social video experts Unruly reviews the latest viral by Coca-Cola.

Fair Play Machines: #ShareTheDerby

Anyone who has witnessed some of the recent football headlines around bananas being thrown on the pitch will be left in no doubt that the beautiful game can bring out the ugly side in people. However, a new campaign from Coca-Cola shows a more positive side to the game.

As witnessed by the scenes during the 2012 London Olympics, there’s no doubt that sport has a special power to unite.

And as the world's most popular sport, football has more than most. It's the side of the game which inspired opposing German and British armies to put down their guns and have a kickabout during World War I rather than the fading images of 80s soccer hooligans.

So to highlight this side of the game, Coca-Cola decided to bring together fans on both sides of one of football's fiercest rivalries.

Italian giants A.C. Milan and Inter Milan have a bitter rivalry which stretches back over more than a century. Their matches split families apart; even hairdressers refuse to cut the hair of opposing fans. It’s that divisive.

In its new campaign, "Fair Play Machines", Coca-Cola tries to play peacemaker, urging supporters to put their differences behind them and share a drink.

But not in the way you might think.  They set up their signature vending machines at opposite ends of the San Siro stadium, in Milan, just before the two teams were due to play and asked fans to press a button that would give fans of the opposing team a free can at the other machine. The result? Well, I’m not sure about the match, but both machines were emptied well before kick-off.

Of course, it’s not the first time the soft drinks giant has tried a stunt like this. It used the same interconnected machines to try and bring Indian and Pakistanis together in a campaign called "Small World Machines" last year.  

They are also not the only brand to focus on football’s ability to break down barriers in the last few weeks. Carlsberg tried a similar theme with its ambitious "Border Football" campaign.

The execution is good rather than spectacular, likely to make you smile rather than hug the person next to you. 

It’s certainly a clever tactic, which is already delivering results. The Italian version has already attracted almost 40,000 shares.  

Indeed, recent research has found that video content which draws a strong, positive emotional response is 30% more likely to be shared than those which elicit strong negative emotions.

And what better message to get across ahead of this year’s World Cup, especially considering recent headlines?

Universal global emotions such as happiness and pride rather than humour are also more likely to cross national borders, making it perfect for a brand looking to make a big splash during the World Cup.

As for the ad itself, the execution is good rather than spectacular, likely to make you smile rather than hug the person next to you. And the fact it’s centred around one country will also limit its global appeal.

But the soft drinks giant - a World Cup sponsor -  is certainly on to something and it  will be interesting to see what it rolls out during Brazil 2014. An ad featuring fans from across the world, for example, is an exciting prospect.

There’s no doubt Coca-Cola’s positivity - shown by recent hit campaigns like "America The Beautiful" and "Security Cameras"- is contagious.

Something we can all drink to.

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