Zero Likes Given: Inside Kahlúa's art exhibit of unliked Instagram posts

Over 1,000 people turned up to see photos in real-life that had made zero impression online.

Company: Kahlúa (owned by Pernod Ricard)
Campaign: Zero Likes Given 
Agency partners: Droga5 (creative), Ketchum (PR)
Duration: July 25-27, 2019

Even the least-liked posts on Instagram deserve some love. So Kahlúa launched a microsite and curated an art exhibit in New York City celebrating Instagram posts that received zero likes.

Since its launch in 1936, Kahlúa has "always been an unserious brand that’s been about the playfulness and the unserious side of coffee," said Troy Gorczyca, Kahlúa’s brand director.

Many people now take sites such as Instagram extremely seriously and trying to post the right photos and captions to get maximum likes can create a lot of pressure. Despite this, on social media, Kahlúa strives to maintain a playful brand voice. 

Last fall, Kahlúa commissioned a survey of millennials’ social media habits. The results showed that while over 90% of respondents said it’s important to live in the moment, more than half had missed an important moment because they were trying to capture it on social media. 

Kahlúa wanted a campaign that punctured this gravity, and created an exhibition that celebrated social media’s less metric-driven side.   

The central goal of the campaign was to drive conversation around Kahlúa, Gorczyca said, particularly in the summer, not a season known for coffee-based cocktails.

Kahlúa worked with a data scientist to identify Instagram photos that received zero likes and then tapped actor and influencer Jackie Cruz to choose the images that would appear in the show. Her selections were "super interesting," Gorczyca said. "Unfiltered, but also quite beautiful." 

In the lead up to the show, Kahlúa launched a microsite where Instagram users could determine their nine least-liked photos. The Kahlúa team used the tool on their own accounts. Gorczyca discovered one of his least-liked photos was a candid shot from a long-ago trip to Paris. It transported him back to the moment and made him smile, even if his followers didn’t appreciate the photo.

Kahlúa pitched the media in advance of the art exhibit, which ran from July 25 to July 28, publishing a public press release on July 17. It also promoted the campaign across its social media platforms and utilized Cruz, who posted about the exhibition to her 1.6 million Instagram followers. 

Over 1,000 people attended the exhibit, which was held in New York City’s Lower East Side, and the campaign generated 70 earned media placements worldwide, including coverage from Bustle, BuzzFeed, Good Day New York and Ok! Magazine

Following the launch, Kahlúa was the most talked about alcohol brand on social media, according to the social media listening tool Radarly. Across platforms, conversations involving the brand were up 180% in July, compared to the same time period last year. 

On Kahlúa’s Instagram account, a series of four posts about the campaign generated a total of 23,564 views/likes and 310 comments. Cruz’s two Instagram posts about the campaign received a collective 24,836 likes and 220 comments. 

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