These days, most marketing stunts are aimed at going viral online through social-media shares. Pepsi's new Like Machine marketing stunt makes social media a requirement, not an option. The vending machine doesn't want your cash, it just wants your Facebook cred.
The Pepsi Like Machine is putting a twist on the age-old art of sampling. Normally, a hired gun dressed up in brand apparel hands out samples to anyone walking by. The specialized vending machine hands out samples, too, but you have to give it a "like" on Facebook before it coughs up the goods.
Smartphone users stand by the machine, "like" the Pepsi Facebook page, choose a soda flavor, and get their free can right away. Those without smartphones can use a large touchscreen built into the machine to log into Facebook and follow the same steps to get their soda fix. A timer automatically logs users out of their accounts.
The machine was first introduced at a Beyonce concert in Antwert, Belgium, where it was mobbed by fans who were only too happy to hand over their Facebook information for a free sample. "Thanks to this new way of sampling, we know exactly who like, tried, and enjoyed an ice-cold Pepsi," says the narrator of a video showing off the machine.
This isn't the first time Pepsi has played with social-media vending machines. Two years ago, the company introduced a Social Vending System machine with text and video messaging that linked to other machines in a network.
The touchscreen and free sodas are certainly a draw, but the Pepsi Like Machine is all about collecting data. The free samples no longer just disappear into the night, they're connected with personal information. It's an advertiser's dream.