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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Social Vending: The Beginning

Recently my girlfriend mentioned that she had seen Coke’s newest vending machine in the Atlanta Airport. This machine has a touch screen that allows you to select your beverage rather than the traditional buttons. I first saw one at the World of Coke Museum here in Atlanta with which were also able to combine different flavors and products into one tasty (or very daring) combination.

Coke also started rolling out it’s “Happiness Machine,” a fake vending machine that would magically spit out pizzas, surfboards, frisbees, and tons of other cool things. Check out this vid for what the Happiness Machine is capable of:

I thought this campaign was fantastic. The smiles of everyone involved makes it worthwhile in itself, but since the video(s) went viral it garnered national attention.

Pepsi is looking to one-up Coke on this one, by creating a vending machine that lets you gift drinks to friends via social media. Now, I immediately assumed this meant Facebook and Twitter integration, but alas this is not the case. I agree with Mashable when they say this is “glaring omission.” Yes, even though they may be testing integration for the next step…I wish that they would have included it with these. As for now, you use a friend’s mobile number to send them a text with a code that can be redeemed for a free drink at any of these vending machines.

It’s a great idea, but the idea of going to a vending machine and having to take out my phone, look up a friend’s number, then type in a message on the machine is a relatively unattractive one…just imagine the lines at one of these things if they get popular. You can also add an optional video that the vending machine records for you, I’d love to have people lined up behind me making faces and inappropriate gestures while I’m trying to send a drink.

There are some problems with the idea, but all in all I think it’s fantastic. Once real social media (not just simple texting, which isn’t “social media” in my opinion) is integrated and you can post to people’s walls, or tweet videos, this will be an incredible idea that will undoubtedly be mimicked or one-upped in return by Coca-cola.

What do you think of social vending? Would you use the machine to it’s full potential or treat it like a normal vending machine? Post thoughts in the comments.