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this is only a coincidence
February 20, 2010 2:47 PM   Subscribe

You have reached 1-800-I Feel OK.(mp3) To leave your own OK Soda Related Coincidence, Press 1. To listen to Coincidences, press 2. To respond to the OK Soda Personality Inventory, Press 3. To hear other fascinating options press [more inside].

TV Ad
OK Soda Says Goodbye In A Letter
Phone Menu (sound files gone)
Un-Official Theme Song
How OK Soda made conservatism cool.
Daniel Clowes Label/Packaging pics
More ok fan art
OK Soda Has A Posse
Previously 1, 2, Ur
posted by Potomac Avenue (25 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
God I miss OK. They test-marketed it in the area where I went to camp when I was, like, 13 or 14, and we bought out the soda machine every day. And then I never saw it again, despite it being awesome.

Yes, the marketing was silly, but so is all marketing, and at least this was fun and creative.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2010


Oh boy! I really liked OK Soda, back when it existed. I sure do remember drowning my awkward teenage problems in OK Soda and then not being able to sleep all night. It was over half my life ago, and it's hard to remember quite what it tasted like, but I still really like everything about it that's easier to quantitize and remember; the hotline, the coincidences, the packaging (I still have the case from a 12 pack with the cutouts on the back - the OK Postcard, OK Ruler, OK Comb, OK Scissors, and OK Sunglasses, as I recall - I remember it so well I feel little need to fish it out right now)

My server has been serving up OK Personality Inventory "questions" for a very long time. Over telnet.
posted by aubilenon at 3:05 PM on February 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I lived in East Lansing Michigan when OK Soda was tested one summer. Man, did I have a lot of OK Soda gear.

There is an OK Soda can shaped cooler at my parents house RIGHT NOW!
posted by k8t at 3:08 PM on February 20, 2010


I call bullshit on Josh Glenn's hilobrow essay. Glenn suggests that the advertising push was an attempt to get the OK consumers to acquiesce to the existing social power structures. I don't see it that way at all; the campaign's overriding aesthetic was an uneasy sense of pervasive nihilistic dread, not assuring or capitulation-friendly in the slightest. While Glenn suggests that the manifesto is meant to contain comforting words delivering The Kids into the arms of squareness, I think that's a pretty dumb read of the text, given its partnership with the rather bleak artwork/promotional commercials.

In every particular, the “OK Soda Manifesto” exhibited those criteria which the psychologist Robert Jay Lifton identified in 1961 with the practice of “thought reform,” or mind control. As in all mind control cults, for example, the manifesto forbade OK drinkers from associating with outsiders, and restricted their vocabulary to what Lifton calls “thought-terminating clichés

Yes, that's true, but it ignores the larger advertising package: that the straightlaced "OK"ness of the manifesto stands alongside all the depressing imagery as a way of highlighting the very manufacturedness of the message being sold. Far from being a didactic use of "thought-terminating clichés", the advertising's poking fun at those clichés, and hoping the consumer's amusedness at the advertising's own inauthenticity will coax said consumer to think of OK's values as similar to their own.

Basically, OK just took a shot at being the official drink of nihilists. And they failed, 'cause neither the mixed-soda-like taste or the nihilism really appealed to anyone. (except for me, who, in my heady mid-90s teenagerhood, was extremely friendly to both low-level nihilism and crazy Suicide-tasting soda pop. Oh, Reader! Had we had a whole society made up of fifteen-year-old-Gregs, OK soda would have been a hit, every male in the US would be wearing his hair in a ratty ponytail, "I despise all of you" would have replaced "e pluribus unum" on all our coins, and the president would have been our friend Jay, because he's kind of all right, I guess. READER, IMAGINE IT!!!)
posted by Greg Nog at 3:24 PM on February 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ok Soda seemed to be a blend of Mountain Dew and Barq's root beer. I was in a test market area as well, and it was certainly the right price for a teenager, 25 cents a can if not free. At the time the idea of having marketing focused on you as demographic was just starting to sink in, and I must say I enjoyed recognizing it and didn't have much problem with the idea. The cans were cool, with a bleak or even seemingly distopian feel. I thought it fit in somewhere between the ad-happy Coke and RC Cola, which didn't do any advertising in the northwest US that I can remember.

In any instance, I can't help but having fond memories of a decent cheap soda, reading Spy magazine, and listening to the Fall all at the same time.
posted by l2p at 3:45 PM on February 20, 2010


I didn't much like OK Cola, but I loved 1-800-I-FEEL-OK and would call it all the time. Yeah, I thought that was weird at the time too.
posted by grouse at 3:53 PM on February 20, 2010


I mean OK Soda.
posted by grouse at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2010


I never got to drink or see an OK soda can, but I loved the 1800Ifeelok phone number. As a middle schooler my friends and I spent a lot of time and imagination describing our first ok cola experiences to the ok soda line.
posted by aetg at 4:05 PM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I drank a fair amount of OK Soda, much of which was probably due to 1-800-I-FEEL-OK. I was a friendless, socially maladjusted, exceptionally depressed middle schooler. The overwhelming message of OK-ness, the ridiculous testimonials of how things ended up OK, though underwhelmingly expressed, made me feel oddly hopeful. Sure, I knew it was just part of an ad campaign that wasn't aiming beyond clever and amusing, but its delivery at that point in my life made it personally meaningful. I started feeling that maybe, someday, things actually were going to be okay. I called multiple times a day for much of the number's duration.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


At the Charm Theater in Payette, Idaho, in the 1950s, the fountain soft drinks came in three flavors. One could get a Coke, a root beer or an orange soda. The combination of all three was called a Suicide. OK Soda tasted like a Suicide, only a little bit on the flat side. It really was just OK in its OKness. Not better than just OK but just OK and just OK only.
posted by y2karl at 5:49 PM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


OK Soda was a fun experience. I too was a middle schooler.

When I found Josh Glenn's essay years later I was blown away. It's a really clever satire, absolutely love it. It was originally in The Baffler.
posted by mpbx at 6:11 PM on February 20, 2010


How funny, I was just thinking about 1-800-i-feel-ok the other day. The summer I was ten, my teenage babysitter would amuse my brother and I by putting my parents' phone on speakerphone and calling the number over and over. I don't remember ever drinking the soda, but I was in love with the advertising.
posted by beandip at 7:28 PM on February 20, 2010


Clowes or Burns?
posted by stevil at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2010


Loved Ok. Bought so much of it trying to get the can that had a hat and 75 cents in it. It intrigued me even more because you got an extra quarter because the soda itself was only 50 cents.

The marketing worked one me, which is embarrassing looking back on how it was an established corporation trying to be "different" to appeal to gen-xers, but as a gen-Yer (or millennial or whatever the hell they call us now (sometimes i feel like i fit better with x, but that's because i grew up around xers)) and a 12-year old at the time i think i was just in to how odd it was. I didn't care about corporations or marketing. I may have actually liked the can design and marketing campaign more than i liked the soda itself, but i did drink tons of it either way.
posted by djduckie at 8:27 PM on February 20, 2010


Clowes or Burns?
Both did artwork. Or were asking us to choose our favorite between the two??
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 8:31 PM on February 20, 2010


AWESOME! I loved OK Soda, and this campaign!
posted by andreaazure at 8:53 PM on February 20, 2010


Oh, man. Thanks for this. I sometimes feel like the whole OK Soda experience was a dream, or a plot point in a Douglas Coupland novel. I find it really strange how many people my age barely remember it, if they remember it at all.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:39 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Stunted Mike, a techno artist who along with Team Techno and acts like Cerebral used to have a presence on Audiogalaxy.com (remember THAT?) had a song based on a sample of the 1-800-I FEEL OK greeting. I wish I knew the copyright status of the track, because I have it and it's hysterical.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:11 AM on February 21, 2010


I went on a Coca-Cola tour in Atlanta (the giant Coca-Cola museum/shrine) with my then-fiancée now-wife several years ago.

As you might imagine, the tour guide was unfailingly pro-Coke. Coke was great, did great things, brought joy to people around the world, etcetera. There was a computer-animated movie about weird creatures inside a Coke machine, memorabilia and tchotkes from around the world over the last 100 years, and so on.

I have no idea if this was on-script or if the tour guide was having a really bad day or what, but the only break from the unflappably upbeat presentation was that at one point, one single point, the presenter kind of said something like "and all sorts of Coke products have been introduced since then, thriving in countries around the world. Well, except for OK Soda. Ha! Ha!"

And when she said "OK Soda" and barked that stacatto laugh, this flickering spasm of hate and fear and anguish passed over her face, like she suddenly remembered when she was four years old and woke up because there was a noise and looked out the window and saw giant bottles of OK Soda standing over the broken and bleeding corpses of her parents in the front yard, swinging their OK Cudgels in a hellish cadence of pure brutality.

Then she went on with the tour.

In case you're wondering, there was no mention of New Coke. At all. No pictures, no memorabilia, nothing in the collection of cans of every soda Coca-Cola had ever made. It was like the Trotsky of Coke.
posted by Shepherd at 4:17 AM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


My adolescent self and friends loved the weirdness of 1-800-FEEL-OK and we spent many hours listening/interacting with it. Because of that number we went on to phone other 1-800 numbers ( the 1-800 number of Hooked on Phonics I think was our favorite target ) in hopes of finding similar experiences. We never did, but we always ended up having lots of fun messing with automated phone systems and the people that had to maintain them.

Anyways, I hadn't thought about OK soda or that number for more than 10 or 12 years until reading this post. Thanks for making it.

To get on to my question- to my surprise, 1800ifeelok.com was not only a valid domain, but also available. I registered it. What to do with it?
posted by localhuman at 7:04 AM on February 21, 2010


localhuman, awesome.
make it point at a single use tumblr?
I request you convert all those shitty .ra and .au files i linked to into .mp3s and post them and all the rest of the detritus i linked to from dead pages and make a 1800ifok access page that recreates dialing the number! which i never did. as a teenager i HATED this marketing and everything like it that tried to appeal to me. i drank mountain dew and ate taco bell everyday instead, at least they were honestly rapacious. Now of course, i recognize how honest in fact they were being about their appeal, as greg nog points out. I miss advertising having to justify itself, somewhat shamefacedly, whenever it targeted the hyper-educated cynical media-wise youth. Now they just slap an arcade fire song on a regular car commercial and you're supposed to swell with hope. And worse, it works just fine and you really want a VW.

it's interesting to me that some very very early webpages about the soda (mostly on mysterious MIT servers) still exist and they're all positive. there was plenty of animosity towards the marketing but also lots of hilarious fan-created responses. would an ad agency consider it a success or a failure now? i guess its the same question you have to ask about freaks and geeks or wet hot american summer or various other canceled pieces of culture. if it sticks in the popular imagination, if people respond to it, does it matter if they don't actually buy it and consume it?

Answer: yes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:51 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I am required to point out in any OK Soda thread, the voice of 1-800-I-FEEL-OK was Gary Owens.
posted by jscott at 10:24 AM on February 21, 2010


A very small stuffed person might think "Hey! I never have to go to school! I never have to get a job! But I am rather small, and I have no elbows or knees. Oh well. I'm sure everything's going to be OK."
posted by cereselle at 1:28 PM on February 21, 2010


awesome post. I was moving some stuff around in my parent's house a couple months ago, and found a couple unused OK stickers.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:52 PM on February 22, 2010


I succumbed to the marketing assault and drank a good deal. I got my kicks from calling the phone number. Constantly.

Secretly, though, the dark illustrations on the can gave me deep, confusing feelings of existential angst at age 10.
posted by spamguy at 7:02 AM on February 23, 2010


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