Social Drinking

29 04 2011

With a title like that, I’m bound to attract readers. Too bad I’m talking about soft drinks, though.

I know. It’s the weekend. And we all know that weekends were made for Michelob (or insert you favorite other brand). But when Pepsi issues a new challenge like the current one being tested in vending machines, it just screams to be recognized.

Because now you will be able to buy your friend a soda, and they do not even have to be present.

It’s all pretty simple. First of all, watch the video:

At one of these special vending machines you will be able to use the touchscreen to enter the name and mobile number of the lucky recipient, along with a personalized message. You can even shoot a short video at the vending machine (that security camera has multiple purposes, doesn’t it?). Heck, it can even allow you to “pay it forward” by buying a soda for a complete stranger.

All the lucky person need do is run to the nearest compatible vending machine to redeem his or her gift.

It’s all a great idea, and leverages basic current technology. The only thing missing to make this thing be social is integration with social media. As critics have already pointed out, there is no linkage to Facebook or Twitter, which effectively keeps the whole thing a private affair between the two of you. Imagine how powerful the promo could be if you could splatter this across your tweet stream or post it to your wall?

Pepsi is in dire need of a boost. Whereas they had once made a few serious runs at Coke, they are now faltering badly. Coke outsells Pepsi nearly 2:1 (1.59 billions cases to 891.5 million cases); in fact, Diet Coke sales have now surpassed those of Pepsi. The fizz has apparently gone out of the soda.

But while the social vending promo has some inherent coolness, it is probably not going to be enough to put a dent in Coke’s can. In fact, it is easily imitated (even if it means replacing current machines with these more expensive models). Folks would have to buy about 16.8 billion (no kidding) bottles of Pepsi to bring them up to current Coke sales.

Which is about 54 bottles that every man, woman and child would have to buy on top of what they buy for themselves.

And with that in mind, I am now beginning to think that maybe the fizz has gone out of Pepsi’s brains as well. Maybe they have been drinking socially.” Just the wrong stuff.

Dr “Coke And A Smile” Gerlich


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