Dispensing Brands One “Coin” at a Time…

Picture this. It’s Valentine’s Day 2014 and you are walking down a street with your sweetie. Suddenly…

As part of their ongoing global Open Happiness campaign, Coca~Cola installed a vending machine in Turkey to encourage couples to #shareacoke on one of the most romantic day of the year. This machine is one the latest Happiness Machines that beverage brand {which is currently ranked 3rd as one the most recognized brand globally (Interbrand, 2013)} has installed in various markets to continue to spread its simple message that opening a can of Coke can release a sense of happiness (Brooks, 2014).

Brands are starting to explore vending machines as part of their integrated marketing communications efforts. Globally, the beverage giant Coca~Cola not only utilizes them to conveniently dispense its products but their Happiness Machines also reinforce and maintain brand/product recognition. In the latest out-of-home advertisement innovation, vending machines are establishing a new trend in cultivating brand awareness and increased revenue generation.

At the recent 11th annual Digital Signage Expo, the exploratorium on digital vending machines was at forefront of the convention. The new wave of machines also concentrated on enhancing consumer experiences (Martin, 2014). Featured at this year’s event was global coffee brand, Costa Coffee, who presented coffee machines with interface options such as touch screens, mobile payments, and NFC- near field communications. Near field communications allows a consumer to purchase goods with their mobile device by a mere tap (Strickland, 2013). All this functionality allows vending machines to capture consumer demographics which can provide a brand with vital consumer information.

In addition to creating consumer brand experiences, these new vending machine also serves as adverting platform for brands that are common to vending. Another expo highlight was Mondelez International’s Diji-Touch vending machine. Becoming a leader in vending machine innovation and technology, their machines displays fantastic digital ads; product nutritional value; has analytical software that will allow for real time inventory controls and even thanks the consumer for their purchase (Martin, 2014). The machines also act as a virtual store shelf. The consumer can select a product featured in the machine and get a 360 degree view. Since Mondelez dispenses multiple brands, the digital space that is featured on the machines can be used to generate brand awareness – regardless of the machine’s product inventory.

So the next time you are grabbing a quick snack, you may get a lot more than just a bag of chips…you may also get a personalized Coke and a smile. As a Pepsi girl, I totally would LOVE to have my name on a Coke can!

Thank you!


Brooks, R. (February 18, 2014). Invisible vending machines surprised lovers on Valentine’s day. Retrieved from http://www.psfk.com/2014/02/coca-cola-couples-vending-machine.html#!wK8ft

Maras, E. (February 1, 2012). Mobile payment revolution begins. Vending Marketwatch.com. Retrieved from http://www.vendingmarketwatch.com/article/10614061/mobile-payment-revolution-begins

Martin, C. (February 18, 2014). Vending machines go digital, mobile payments included. Media Post. Retrieved from http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/219735/vending-machines-go-digital-mobile-payments-inclu.html?edition=70001

Martin, C. (February 13, 2014). Mobile shoppers to face more interactive screens in stores. Media Post. Retrieved from http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/219467/mobile-shoppers-to-face-more-interactive-screens-i.html

Stickland, K. (March 25, 2013). Coca-Cola to increase use of mobile phones for payments and rewards at vending machines. NFC Times. Retrieved from http://nfctimes.com/news/coca-cola-seeks-increase-mobile-payments-and-rewards-vending-machines

Best Global Brands 2013. Retrieved on February 21, 2014 from http://www.interbrand.com/en/best-global-brands/2013/Best-Global-Brands-2013.aspx

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4 Responses to Dispensing Brands One “Coin” at a Time…

  1. Leah says:

    Although I’m quite certain we are turning into the humans from the movie “Wall-E,” I can’t help but love this platform. I am not a fan of being targeted by advertisers but if I have to be targeted I like the idea of engaging my interest by giving me something fun to do at a vending machine. I also like that it’s a vending machine – something I can walk away from – as opposed to an ad on a bus or the ads that come across my computer that are a bit harder for me to walk away from. When reading Young (2010) he talks about creating word of mouth yet understanding the need for authenticity so that the conversation is organic. I think these vending machines will build the conversation well after the novelty wears off and will be a launching pad for true creativity from competent brands.

    Out-of-the-box thinking has always been necessary which is why integrated marketing thrives. It brings to mind the Dominos Tracker campaign a few years back where the company rented a billboard in Times Square and allowed a live twitter feed from customers to run with real comments about their Dominos experience (Rubin, 2011). They only filtered inappropriate comments and they sent people a video clip of their comment if it made it to the billboard. This kind of event not only brought customer engagement but also the other necessary elements like publicity and necessary information the company needed to continue rebuilding the brand.

    And as a single girl, someone should tell Coca Cola we like happiness, too. Perhaps Bethenny Frankel should open a Skinny Girl vending machine for that market.

    Leah Price


    Rubin, K. (2011). Interesting examples of out-of-the-box marketing ideas. Inbound Marketing. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/22457/Interesting-Examples-of-Out-of-the-Box-Marketing-Ideas-Marketing-Update.aspx

    Young, A. (2010). Brand media strategy: Integrated communications planning in the digital era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  2. Ashley says:

    Hi Alisa,
    You make a compelling point about vending machines being an unexploited channel to creatively interact with the community. I love that they exploit existing channels in creative and interactive ways! Coca-Cola seems to be the pioneer in this (as you can see from my blog post as well, I talk about their machines as a vehicle to connect people across international boarders) and effectively is changing the way people look at these dispensers.
    I am reminded of Chris Grams’ excellent point about community versus consumers. In his book, Ad Free Branding , he talks about the value of the holistic view of the brand community. He talks about how the center of the consumers universe is not brand X, so brand X needs to think of how to interact with the consumer as the center of the universe. To me, it means brands need to think in terms of channels that are not disruptive but rather complimentary to one’s brand experience.
    Like Leah said, it’s an execution we’re not forced to engage with, and therefore far more likely to resonate well with the community. Yesterday a coin eating monster, today an entertainment unit.

    Grams, C. (2011). The ad-free brand: Secrets to building successful brands in a digital world. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.

  3. Lara says:

    Thanks for sharing this – I had no idea just how big of an emotional branding champ Coca-Cola has become. I’m blown away by these ideas and the main idea is to personalize each consumer experience. These digitouch vending machines are incredibly engaging and authentic. It’s a sure way to ingrain a brand in your memory and create a connection that lasts long after you walk away with the product. Interactive experiences definitely set you apart from the competition. Gamification does this as well – allows customers, clients, employees to learn about a product or system in a gaming context. When you’re occupied with a fun digital experience and left smiling with the “thank you” message, suddenly things like the calories you are about to consume and/or the marked up price you’re paying at a vending machine are very distant from your thoughts.

  4. Erin says:

    Alisa, you are a Pepsi girl? *Gasp*

    I love me some coke and will almost never buy a Pepsi and this makes me love Coke even more! I would love to come across one of these happiness dispensers. Have you tried the coke flavor machines? They are not as dramatic or awesome as the virtual vending machine but it gives you a chance to taste over 100 coke products.