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A recent post on forbes.com dissects a new marketing approach from Coca-cola.
I’m sure we’ve all had this frustrating encounter with a vending machine: you walk up and a red light indicates that the machine has no change. You suck it up and lose 50 cents, walk away empty handed, or perhaps feel inclined to kick the machine out of anger.
Recently, at the National University of Singapore, Coke installed a vending machine that accepts hugs as currency. The face of the machine reads, “Hug Me” in the style of the traditional Coca-cola logo, and if you squeeze the sides just right, it dispenses a free coke (so the spike in blood pressure that would have come from kicking the machine is replaced with one from high fructose corn syrup).
See the machine in action below:
This campaign is smart and timely. As Forbes points out, facebook and other social media sites have introduced us to virtual “social gestures,” which have become a crucial component of marketing. You can’t visit a webpage without being prompted to “like” or “tweet” it. To my mother’s chagrin, if you don’t have a facebook account, you are often left out of the loop in regards to company contests, campaigns, and updates.
The goal, when companies engage in social-media based marketing, is to make a brand experience more personal. If consumers are given the opportunity to interact with a company on facebook, there is a level of friendliness and trust built into the exchange.
Coke has capitalized on these tactics. When Coke asks students on a Singapore campus to hug a vending machine, they are creating an association between the act of hugging and their product—a powerful ploy.
With such a clever campaign in place for Coke, Pepsi might be in need of consolation—maybe a hug?