Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 21, 2010 12:00 PM
It's the first day of summer and thoughts turn to vacations, beaches... and of course, ice cream. And it doesn't get much better than earning a free ice cream just for smiling. Swing by a "Share Happy" ice cream vending machine this summer and it will attempt to engage you with visual tricks, and then encourage you to give it your most winning smile. When your smile is big enough according to the "smile-o-meter," the machine takes a photo, asks for your permission to upload it onto Facebook, and then rewards you with your choice of a free ice cream.
The vending machine is the brainchild of SapientNitro, a consumer experience company who developed "Share Happy" for Unilever, the world's biggest ice cream manufacturer. As the promotion notes on its Facebook page, "You know the brand as FRIGO, LANGNESE, ESKIMO, ALGIDA, WALL'S, OLA etc., depending on where you come from. In short: The heart brand is the world's favourite ice cream."
The smile-activated ice cream vending machine made its first public appearance in May at the Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon, Portugal, where it created a sensation. This week, it's being demonstrated at the Cannes Advertising Festival in France. Unilever expects to place the machines in high-traffic consumer locations, such as shopping malls, around the world over the next 18 months.
Obviously, Unilever will use "Share Happy" to promote its ice cream brands, which also includes Ben & Jerry's, Good Humor, Breyers, and Klondike. But according to Unilever, the machine is designed to also "encourage people everywhere to share life's small moments of happiness."
The "Share Happy" machine is one more piece of evidence that big companies are flocking to the art of consumer engagement to promote their products. We recently reported on Coca-Cola's "Freestyle," an equally remarkable machine that allows consumers to mix their own flavor concoctions from more than 100 Coca-Cola drink brands. Expect to see more companies using unique creative approaches combined with social media to amaze and delight their customers and create buzz about their brands.