Kahlúa Raises a Glass to the Worst of Social Media

Let’s hear it for the failures. Let’s toast those social media images which are so bad even your friends and followers don’t like them.

That’s the message from Kahlúa, the coffee liqueur brand which launched in Mexico in 1936, and is now part of the Pernod-Ricard portfolio. The #ZeroLikesGiven campaign launched last week, and comes to a simmering boil July 25-27 in New York with a pop-up gallery on New York’s lower east side exhibiting images which received no love whatsoever on Instagram. The show includes the oldest image (2010) with zero likes (something I suspect might be remedied when people track it down online).

I asked brand director Troy Gorczyca why Kahlúa was counter-intuitively celebrating failure rather than success. “We’re a brand that has always skipped to the beat of a different drum. We’re quite unserious as a brand. What we’ve realized is that life has gotten so serious, through social media and politics, and people take their Instagram photos so seriously — whether they’re taking photos of travel or food, not to mention taking a perfect selfie. We’re not about the seriousness, so we saw it as a great opportunity to showcase what our brand is all about.”

Obviously the market for Kahlúa in the U.S. is over 21, but the focus on unseriousness and social media hinted to me at a younger demographic. “We’re really a brand for everyone,” said Gorczyca, “We’re consumed in coffee cocktails throughout the world, so there’s lots of different people who drink Kahlúa. We see this as an opportunity to connect with people who may know the brand, but not necessarily what we’re about. It’s about connecting with anyone who shares the universal truth that life has become so unseriousness. We think that will connect nicely with everyone.”

What kind of feedback has the campaign been getting so far? “What we’re finding is that as people are using the online tool, they’re finding lots of fun images of themselves. It allows people to look back at some of the photos they took, and remember those moments — probably with friends, hanging out — and at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to figure out how to connect with people when they’re having fun.”

Oh yes, the online tool. At this link, insert your Instagram account details, and Kahlúa will cheerfully remind you of your very own worst Instagram fails. (I don;t think mine look so bad: give it a try).

Ironically, like any brand, Kahlúa has its own social media presence which seeks success and engagement, not lonely likelessness, to coin a term. “For us, it’s not necessarily about showing our best face, it’s about showing our face and how to connect with consumers.”

Editor’s note: If Kahlúa is standing up for the unserious side of Pernod-Ricard, the global beverage brand is actually taking some social impact issues seriously. Stay tuned for more the other side of the story.

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