A Coke vending machine (above) was installed at the National University of Singapore with “Hug Me” written on it in Coke’s iconic font. The currency for a soda is a squeeze… a literal machine hug for a free Coke.
Gestural marketing, in this case brilliantly executed, iterates on Coca-Cola’s Open Happiness campaign, launched in 2010 at St. John’s University, and seen in this video.
It posed the metaphorical question, “Where will happiness strike next?” and millions of views later, as the campaign spread to other countries, tools and platforms were in place via global activation kits for custom spots from other cultures such as this one from Brazil.
The rising debate over touch versus gesture is rising, as Forbes reports:
In a world where Facebook likes and photo comments are considered “social gestures,” manipulating consumers to make specific gestures is top-of-mind for marketers today.
"Happiness is contagious. The Coca-Cola Hug Machine is a simple idea to spread some happiness," said Leonardo O'Grady, ASEAN IMC Director, Coca-Cola. "Our strategy is to deliver doses of happiness in an unexpected, innovative way to engage not only the people present, but the audience at large.”
Facebook, Twitter and blogs are doing their part to spread the good vibes. "Whether you were hugging the machine or experiencing the event online, our goal was the same - to put a smile on your face and share that emotional connection. Reactions were amazing... people really had fun with it and at one point we had four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as each other! In fact, there was a long line of people looking to give hugs - it was really heartwarming," continues O’Grady.
MediaPost reports that Possible Worldwide's Eric Mauriello, an expert in touch-screen technologies, argues that touch and gesture can coexist as strategies:
"The two [technologies] actually compliment each other.” In the broadest sense, “gestural” sensors are good for drawing consumers into an out-of-home experience, but touch is far superior for product selection, say, and other detailed actions.
The Coca-Cola Hug Machine, created by Ogilvy & Mather, will now roll out across Asia and other countries. A word of caution: it is highly contagious.