Best of 2019: Sprite put an online bully face to face with 100 of his victims

Brand continues its 'I Love You Hater' campaign with unnerving stunt

Published On
Apr 08, 2019

Editor's Pick

On Creativity through Jan. 1, we’ll be revisiting some of the brand ideas and campaigns that made 2019—and the last decade. Check back on in the new year for the full lists.

Best of 2019

It’s tricky territory for a brand—especially a soda—to stand for something beyond the pure sell (sorry, Pepsi), but in South America, Sprite endeared itself to young consumers with a campaign directly addressing their social ills. With Santo Argentina, the brand took on bullying with ads that sought to neutralize hate with love and followed up with an eye-opening stunt (above) that brought an online troll face-to-face with 100 of his victims. Then, Sprite established a Reddit platform whereby young people could help each other cope with their loneliness.

Original Story

Sprite has been neutralizing hate with love in its global campaign out of Santo, which kicked off with a spot depicting various victims of online bullying responding to their harasses with a simple message: “I love you.”

The campaign continues by turning the camera toward the bully himself, in an unnerving stunt that could bring perhaps the fiercest antagonists to their knees--they put an unsuspecting online troll face to face with 100 of his victims.  

The stunt, seen in the video above, shows the bully stepping into a room, where he’s confronted by a crowd of people wearing t-shirts, imprinted with dozens of hurtful messages.  Only after people step up, one by one, and look him in the eye to read the insults out loud ("Nauseating rat, scum of life," "The worst fear of pregnancy is ending up a fat and ugly slob like you") does he realize he’s staring at his own words.

The crowd then begins to surround him, turning the tension up. Will the bully lash back? Will he buckle to his knees? His companions, however, diffuse the moment by breaking into song, The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” before showering him with embraces.

To pull off the stunt, over two months Sprite and agencies Santo and Digitas Argentina developed an A.I. tool that could analyze the themes and subjects of Twitter conversations to distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive messages. They then used data mining technology to find out who aggressors were within the Sprite community. Among these, they were able to identify one user as the most aggressive--he had attacked 565 people in more than 1,000 tweet during the past year.

Sprite then contacted him to be part of an “experiment,” but did not reveal what it entailed.

“We told him he was going to be immersed in an experience, and to go along with it, but we had no idea what his reaction would be when he found himself face to face with one hundred of the people he had trolled online,” explained Santo CCO Maxi Itzkoff in a statement. “On set, it was a moment of lots of tension, but at the same time very emotional.

The campaign also includes a behind-the-scenes film, in which the victims describe the relief and pride they felt for participating in the experience, and the bully himself: “When they all hugged me, I thought …  I’m never going to forget this,” he says.

The campaign was directed by Lemon, via Ladoble.