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Frito-Lay’s Walkers Crisps enlivens bus-shelter vending machine via mobile

As part of the brand’s “Do Us A Flavour” campaign, consumers who tweeted a hashtag to a vending machine in the two bus shelters could cause the video image of soccer star Gary Lineker to drop the chips down the chute to the customer. The campaign underscores mobile’s ability to entertain customers while driving brand engagement.

“The aim was to let people discover the tweet-to-eat vending machine, without a really obvious call-to-action,” said Neil Chapman, head of create for Clear Channel UK.  “They wanted to surprise people with the illusion that Gary was actually sitting inside the screen and encourage them to question how there could be a vending machine in such a small space.

“Consequently, the impact was key and the resulting word-of-mouth, social media engagement and filming of their experience resulted in 800,000 YouTube views,” he said. “Doing something new and innovative is equally important.”

Twitter handle
Clear Channel worked with OMD UK, AMV BBDO and Talon to develop the tweet-activated digital vending machine and install it at London bus shelters.

The campaign marks the first time a vending machine, activated by Twitter, and digital screen have been installed into bus shelters anywhere in the world, Mr. Chapman said.

An onscreen display prompted the bus rider to tweet a randomly generated hashtag to a predetermined Twitter handle. The vending unit monitored the handle for that specific hashtag and when it was detected, it instructed the software to play the vending film featuring Lineker receiving the tweet and placing the chips into a flap behind his head. The real chips were then dispensed, perfectly synced to the drop of the chips on the film.

A YouTube video documents consumers’ response at

“The actual connection is literal,” Mr. Chapman said. “They have to interact to get their reward, but the experience itself is fun and something you’re likely to share and comment on positively.”

This type of activity can deliver many benefits for the brand – from the initial value exchange where they place the product in to the consumer’s hand, to the online, social, word-of-mouth and earned media halo effect, he said.

“If the campaign is particularly interesting – using a new piece of technology for example – the activity will also generate earned media in addition to the social and word-of-mouth, so you have editorial and another metric,” Mr. Chapman said. “The content created (photos and videos) by the experience can also provide the creative for the brand’s wider advertising campaign.

In some cases, the out-of-home activity is the centerpiece for the whole campaign and media is bought to activate, support and seed the resulting content to a wider audience online, he said.

The campaign is an example of how technology and mobile in particular is changing how brands interact with consumers through out-of-home media.

Once a consumer has linked from an out-of-home display to the mobile content, there is an immensely larger chance that they will share that content with their friends on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr.

Six finalists
The key is to create compelling content that is worth sharing.

Mobile-based augmented reality, QR codes and Bluetooth all have been used to connect mobile users to ad content and give marketers the ability to create an area where they can proactively engage and push information out to consumers.

Consumers can vote on Twitter for their favorite “Do Us A Flavour” finalist through Oct. 17 at ? The candidates are Ranch Raccoon, Cheesy Beans on Toast, Hotdog with Tomato Ketchup, Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ Sauce, Sizzling Steak Fajita and Chip Shop Chicken Curry.

Someday, United States consumers could see a similar campaign.

“We look after creative out-of-home advertising in the UK but we regularly share ideas with our colleagues in the US who may one day run a similar campaign,” Mr. Chapman said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.