PITTSBURGH -- A vending machine activated by tweets sent from patrons' cellphones could be the first use of such an application in the U.S., and it served as a novel promotional tool at the recent One Young World Summit here.
Dayton, OH-based Innovative Vending Solutions developed the Twitter-activated machine for iStrategyLabs, an experiential marketing company. Thought for Food, an iStrategyLabs client devoted to fighting hunger, featured the machine in its exhibit, where showgoers lined up to try it out. The One Young World Summit united socially minded young people who exchanged views and strategized on driving local and global change.
Showgoers who approached the machine were instructed by the touchscreen display to tweet a unique hashtag to @thecompany. Once the consumer tweeted that hashtag, the screen indicated that the product was vending. Each patron received a Thought for Food-branded tube. Inside the packaging was a slip of paper that either featured a saying or informed the patron that he or she had won a prize that they could claim from exhibit personnel.
The machine then returned to the homescreen, which displayed a new hashtag generated for the next person in line.
"It is a very unique and interactive way to give away swag for companies," said IVS's Jeff Thibodeau. "It was a way to get people to the booth and to interact with the machine."
He said IVS's Twitter application is now available to other companies, presenting exciting possibilities at promotional events, among other venues.
IVS has developed machines for a number of promotions using vending systems, including one at a high-profile Jell-O sampling event in Canada and a recent t-shirt giveaway tied in with the Conan O'Brien show. | SEE STORY
Pairing social media and vending is becoming more common. Several months ago, VT interviewed an ad executive from Chicago who teamed up with two NYU students to create Check 'N Chew, a bulk vending machine that acknowledges Foursquare check-ins by dispensing a gumball. In South Africa over the summer, BOS Ice Tea introduced its own Twitter-activated vending machine called BEV. Anyone who sends a tweet to BEV while standing in front of it receives a free sample of BOS Ice Tea, a popular organic beverage made in South Africa from Rooibos, an indigenous plant used by locals to make traditional tea.