Of course we know that The Coca-Cola Company is really a heartless corporate behemoth, trying to win market share by winning the hearts and minds of the people.
Well, after this latest, good for them, and good luck too.
Coca-Cola recently put digital signage-enabled and -connected vending kiosks in both India and Pakistan, hostile neighbors with simmering resentments that once were part of the same nation.
Each vending kiosk featured a touchscreen front showing people at the corresponding kiosk in the other country, and invited the people at each kiosk to interact and even complete a small shared task — drawing a circle, doing a little dance — with someone on the other side. (Much like the "dance kiosk" last year in South Korea, completing the task gets the machine to dispense a soda.)
The high-tech vending machines were installed in two popular shopping malls in Lahore, Pakistan, and New Delhi, India, "two cities separated by only 325 miles, but seemingly worlds apart due to decades of political tension" and "invited consumers to put their differences aside and share a simple moment over a Coke," according to Coca-Cola:
The "Small World Machines" provided a live communications portal linking strangers in two nations divided by more than just borders, with the hope of provoking happiness and promoting cultural understanding around the world. Coke and Leo Burnett used first-of-its-kind 3D touchscreen technology to project a streaming video feed onto the vending machine screen while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live emotional exchange. People from both countries and various walks of life were encouraged to complete a friendly task together — wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance — before sharing a Coca-Cola.
Jackie Jantos Tulloch, Coke's global creative director and project lead, compares the live simulcast experience to looking into a webcam, face-to-face with another person. "Your actions are literally mirrored," she explains. "By adding a touch screen, it allowed us to play interactive animations so people could trace things like a heart or smiley face together."
The Small World Machines were created by Coke and Leo Burnett and built by Atlanta-based digital agency The SuperGroup, according to Fast Company. The kiosks were kitted out with full-length webcams that let the people see each other and interact in real time, the magazine said.
"We used special active-shutter 3-D technology that projected a streaming feed onto glass while filming through that glass at the same time," Leo Burnett Executive Creative Director Jon Wyville told Fast Company. "This allowed people to make direct eye contact and touch hands."
The March deployment was an emotional experience for the people who interacted with it, and for the Coca-Cola personnel involved in the project.
"The people of Pakistan and India share a lot of common passions and interests – from food and Bollywood movies, to Coke Studio music, to cricket," Saad Pall, Coke's assistant brand manager in Pakistan, said on the company's website. "What this project did was connect people who are not exposed to each other on a daily basis, enabling the common man in Lahore to see and interact with the common man in Delhi. It's a small step we hope will signal what's possible."
Coca-Cola India Integrated Marketing Communications Director Wasim Basir said on the Coke website that "We wondered what would happen if people from these two countries came together, and the answer was clear: goodness and happiness."
Watch a video of the Small World Machines deployment below (it's a little long, but the payoff is worth it; you might even get a little misty-eyed):