May 02, 2011

Pepsi Introduces "Social" Vending Machines. This Is Not A Joke.

Pepsi's obsession with all things "social" is quickly turning from tragedy to farce.

It would be one thing if these endeavors actually were "social" -- you know, like personal interactions between real human beings. But they are only "social" in the jargon-y web-monkey sense of the word.

Now they are introducing "social" vending machines. Apparently, you can buy a can of Pepsi and send a text or video message from the vending machine.

I don't know about you, but this is something I've always dreamed of. I don't think there is anything that would enhance my soda-buying experience like being able to send a video message from a vending machine.

Does Pepsi know who buys soda? Do they have any idea what kind of messages these people are likely to send? Do they have any idea how thirsty people -- who actually want a Pepsi -- are going to react when they are standing there waiting for 14-year old imbeciles to finish making their videos?

Pepsi is pulling out every cliche in the brand-babble playbook to justify this nonsense. The purpose of the new vending machines is...
" empower consumers and create new ways for them to engage with our brands"
True that. Up until now I've felt powerless. But now that I can engage with Pepsi brands by sending vulgar messages from a vending machine... I am so darn empowered, I just might...I don't know, what the hell do you do when you're empowered?

About 100 years ago I worked on a Pepsi brand. I had the opportunity to attend a bottler convention in Las Vegas. There were thousands of people jammed into a huge hotel ballroom.

After the usual parade of corporate knuckleheads, they introduced the advertising for the upcoming year. BBDO was the agency. They rolled one incredibly great spot after another. The crowd went wild. I thought that would be the highlight of the evening.

But then the real star of the show was introduced -- a new vending machine. The audience went absolutely stark-raving bonkers. I had never thought of a vending machine as anything other than a pay-refrigerator. Apparently to these people it is some form of mystical deity.

If Pepsi's wacky mania for social-ism screws up its vending machine operations like it has screwed up everything else, there will be blood in the hallways.

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