Coke has been doing some creative things with vending machines of late; the Diet Coke Slender Vender can fit in places no hefty drink-dispensing device has gone before, while a Coke-sponsored flag dispenser in a Denmark airport helped welcome people to the “happiest country on earth”. Now, it seems Coke has bestowed an even loftier task upon its vending machines: world peace.
In partnership with agency Leo Burnett, Coke created “Small World Machines“, vending machines that function as soda-dispensing communication portals. In an experiment aimed at promoting mutual understanding and camaraderie between citizens of India and Pakistan, two countries engaged in long-standing religious and political disputes, one machine was placed in Lahore, Pakistan and another in New Delhi, India. The machines allowed people to see and interact with each other, and, perhaps most importantly, complete shared tasks. Once the tasks were successfully completed, the machines rewarded people’s amicable teamwork by dispensing a Coke.
Jackie Jantos, global creative director at Coca Cola, said that the idea of creating stories around shared experiences goes back to the roots of Coke as a brand that started at a soda fountain, which is in itself a communal experience. Coke’s website says: “In 1971, Coca-Cola taught the world to sing through its iconic ‘Hilltop’ ad. More than 40 years later, the brand invited the people of India and Pakistan – two groups used to living with conflict – to share a simple moment of connection and joy with the help of technology.”
The experiment, which took place the week of March 18 this year, was filmed, and the below video was recently uploaded to Coke’s site, as well as YouTube.
It seems that Coke feels the experiment was a success. Ms. Jantos said that on-the-ground teams in India and Pakistan heard that people in both countries were open to more positive interaction with each other. “It was wonderful to have our teams validate that this was the time for this message,” she said. “Waving hello to someone in a land that is not so far away, but feels like it, was amazing.”
While the “Small World Machines” are now on their way back home to the states, the team is currently planning their next mission.
Might we make a suggestion? If the machines really are a success, we think Coke should take their show to the US Congress; if Republicans and Democrats won’t work together for the good of the country, maybe they’ll do it for a nice cold Coke?