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Cause Marketing That’s Good for a Laugh

When you record your digital laugh at Coke’s online ‘Smile-izer’ the cola giant will send $1 to the National Park Foundation, up to $50,000.

Here’s how it works: go to the mycoke.com website, make sure that your webcam and/or microphone is enabled, then press the site’s record button and laugh for about 20 seconds, give or take.

The campaign was activated with online ads (I saw it in my Gmail account).

You can share your laugh and others via Facebook, Twitter and email. Here’s mine.

Here's how the email notification reads:
Your friend would like you to check out Smile-izer. Submit your own laugh today and we'll donate $1.00* to a super cool cause. *Up to $50,000. Coca-Cola Smile-izer
The Smile-izer site has a bunch or caramel-colored bubbles floating from the bottom to the top of the page. Click on one and listen to the accompanying laugh. In addition to regular people like myself, I heard laughs and saw bubbles from American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, along with a bunch of NASCAR drivers including Bobby Labonte, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jeff Burton, Clint Boyer, and Tony Stewart.

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out the connection between Coke and this evanescent little campaign and the much weightier National Park Foundation. Here’s what the Smile-izer site says about the National Park Foundation.
“Ever been to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone? The U.S. National Park Service and the National Park Foundation support and care for these and nearly 400 other amazing parks all across the country. So we just want to say thanks to them for keeping the great outdoors so great. And we want you to join the 285 million park lovers who go each year (if you’re not already going). To find the park nearest you, click here: www.nationalparks.org/findapark.”
I can only assume that Coke is using the campaign to collect email, Twitter, and Facebook info. But unless Coca-Cola has some research that suggests that environmental causes have special resonance with Coke drinkers, I just don’t get why Coke chose the venerable, if not terribly flashy, National Park Foundation as its partner... although Adweek suggests that National Park goers are more active and less obese, thereby leading to fewer anti-soda actions.

That's a valiant effort by Adweek to find the rationale of this campaign. But I still don't get it.

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