The internet is a fetid garbage pile of negativity. But is it possible to find some of the dourest human specimens online—or at least, some of the harshest critics—and wring some brand value out of them?
Vita Coco is trying. In a new campaign from agency Interesting Development, the beverage company attempts a novel testimonial experiment. It scoured the internet for the most negative people it could find—folks who've penned a lot of 1-star reviews and poo-poohed stuff everyone else tends to like—and brought them in for single-person taste tests, with cameras rolling.
First up is Alp_85, whose online sniping allegedly included calling a children's hospital "a joke."
Next up we have Luxelex0380, who once referred to the Grand Canyon as a "big dumb hole" and also said "don't bother" visiting Chicago.
Finally, here is Shelliza906, who is very fond of the word no.
It's a pretty fun approach, and the "Impossible to Hate" line is a nice way of acknowledging the category stigma while setting the new drink apart from it.
Paul Caiozzo, founder and chief creative officer of Interesting Development, says finding the people for the campaign wasn't easy.
"We had to find someone to build this algorithm on a challenging timeline," he tells Muse. "Scraping all of these sites isn't a small task. There are literally billions of reviews. And then cross-referencing the people, eliminating bots, people who simply don't respond, all added to the difficulty. We kept refining the criteria to find different types of critical people, so the campaign would be more interesting. Most one-star reviews, most negative reviews of things no one else hates, percentage of negative to positive reviews. Prolific-ness across multiple platforms."
The only downside, perhaps, is rewarding these folks for being negative in the first place. But in the end, their crimes feel pretty cartoony—it's not like they have Alex Jones in the campaign.
"It's a small but important distinction: We weren't after haters," Caiozzo says. "We weren't looking for people who were just flat-out negative or hateful. We were looking for harsh critics. We had a hunch that these people would be quite lovely in person—and they were. They view what they are doing as a public service—a communal good. I didn't think they would be hateful or angry in real life—just some of the more critical people out there. I think there is a big distinction between a negative person and a harsh critic."
Below is a longer video the explains the concept in more detail.
The brand also released a handful of other ads on Wednesday, featuring people who manage to enjoy the Pressed Coconut Water despite otherwise having a challenging day. (This is a separate part of the campaign—these folks were not found through the algorithm.)
The films will run on streaming TV and digital media (Hulu, YouTube, Amazon, Spotify Sessions) and paid social. Radio spots will play on iHeartMedia and Spotify, and out-of-home advertising will hit New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and Boston throughout the summer.
Brand: Vita Coco
Jane Prior, CMO
Allison Finazzo, Brand Director, Vita Coco
Agency: Interesting Development
Paul Caiozzo, Head of Creative
Nathan Frank, Head of Brand Voice
Tamera Geddes, CEO
Shannon Coletti, Group Account Director
Tom Haslow, Head of Strategy
Mai Huynh, Executive Producer
Sherri Hollander, Senior Producer
Johan Leandersson, Creative Director
Conor Dooley, Creative Director
Ira Oksman, Art Director
Prit Patel, Writer
Jonno Durant, Sr. Creative Producer
Technology Consultant: Superfriends
Production Company: m ss ng p ces
Directors: Nick & Charles