Coca-cola Makes Friends in Singapore
Coca-cola installed a vending machine, a few months ago, on a university campus in Singapore as part of the company’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign. This might not sound out of the ordinary, but the vending machine is a dispenser with a twist; it gives out cans of coke when hugged.
The idea is part of a global campaign, ‘Happiness Machines’, which started in 2009. Another machine set up in an American university handed out cans of coke as well as pizzas and flowers. More recently, a Friendship Machine dispensed two cokes for the price of one — but only if you had a friend to help you reach it.
The ‘Open Happiness’ campaign replaced ‘The Coke Side of Life’ three years ago. Some people were skeptical when the campaign first appeared, but it has adapted well across different cultures.
Behind the News:
In Singapore, displaying affection in public is not traditional, and this could have been used as a reason to not export what is originally an exuberant American-style idea to a seemingly more conservative foreign culture. However local youth attitudes are changing, and Coca-cola, as an iconic American brand, had the insight to tap into new social aspirations. Videos and photos of the huggable vending machine have caused a universal storm on the internet; in some cases, especially with a powerful creative idea, although checking is important, it can be better not to be oversensitive to traditional cultural difference.