Many companies will concede to the fact that their product or service is, well . . . it’s just not that exciting. They can’t imagine how on earth they’d be able to make their product interesting enough that people would want to engage with their business. That’s a fallacy. Literally, anything can be exciting.

On Wednesday, January 30th, in the middle of the Great Polar Vortex of 2019, the temperature here in Milwaukee was a “high” of -13 F, with wind chills between -50 and -40 F.  These were record low temperatures and practically everybody was staying home because it was simply too cold to go outside. Not only were schools canceled for days all over the midwest, the post office literally suspended mail.

You could say it was a slow news day.

So, since everybody was cooped up at home, naturally they were messing around on Facebook. (Even those of us who work from home and really should not have had any excuse for being distracted.)  The skeleton team at my favorite local news station, TMJ4 was completely bored. They say no news is good news, but the news team had to do something. So they decided to put a can of Diet Coke and a can of Mountain Dew outside, just to see how long it would take before they exploded, and which one would go first. They pointed a camera at it, and broadcast it on Facebook Live. 

Seriously. The video was just two cans of soda sitting next to a thermometer to show how cold it was outside. 

Here’s a screenshot:

I don’t think they were expecting it to get as popular as it did. Next thing you know, the homebound folks in Milwaukee area were sharing it to their timelines, and people from all over the world were watching something that was akin to watching paint dry. At one point “Soda Cam” had over 2,000 viewers. 

We were having a blast in the comments, making jokes like, “this is still more interesting than anything Kardashian-related” and “Thoughts and prayers go out to these cans” . . . I honestly didn’t expect myself to be having so much fun chatting with a group of strangers about something so boring and absurd, but that’s exactly what happened. 

Seeing how popular this was getting, the staff decided to send a guy out there to do some silly dancing, and he was getting cheers from the commenters. 

So then TMJ4 decided to kick it up a notch. They put an NBC peacock out there and a Bob Uecker bobblehead, which were nice conversation pieces.

Then came a T-Rex. 

The Diet Coke can blew about an hour and a half in. But the can of Mountain Dew took much, much longer. WTMJ, their radio counterpart, posted an article with clips of the excitement. (If you’d like to see the Coke Can explode, it’s about 1:42 into the video on the bottom.)

This was the most fun I’ve had on Facebook in a long time, and it all started with boredom on a boring day and a “let’s see what would happen if . . . ” experiment. When it picked up, they started getting more and more creative. In fact, TMJ4 Soda Cam was so popular, they even did it the next day during the Super Bowl, with team-themed cans.

Nothing is too boring to create engaging content. Nothing is too dumb to get people excited about what you sell or what you do. I’m actually a much bigger fan of TMJ4 after this experiment. I thought it was great to watch them engage with us on such a slow news day and have some poor schmuck in a t-rex costume dance around in temperatures that were colder than Antarctica. It brought the community together, and we had fun commiserating together in what were the coldest temperatures of our lifetimes.

If bored newsroom folks can make some great engaging, entertaining content out of a live video of two soda cans on a cold day, you can make your product or service interesting, too. All it takes is a “stupid” idea, putting it into action, and watching that idea pick up steam. Once it catches on, the creativity will follow.

Stacy Lukasavitz Steele, Principal of Text on Fire Communications™

Stacy Lukasavitz Steele is the multi-disciplined writer behind Text on Fire Communications™. Formerly known online as “that damned redhead,” this seasoned digital strategist and analyst has been setting fire to the interwebs for over 20 years in one capacity or another. She takes the English language much more seriously than she takes herself, but must warn you that the stereotypes about redheads are true. She is passionate about helping brands find their voice and delivering the right messages to the right people. If you’re a cool company looking for some hot copy, you’re in the right place. Drop her a line via the contact form