Rebecca Cullers reviews the Kooky new Clemenger BBDO machine on ADFREAK this month by asking, "How far will you go for Fantastic Delites?" She compares the vending machine to something akin to an experiment in animal behavior that tests"how far humans would devolve into lab rats."
Fantastic Delites, an Aussie rice snack, is the reward. The Clemenger BBDO machine is the box with the big button to push that releases the snacks. Like Jean Piaget’s pigeons, humans can "learn" what it takes to make the treats fall out of the big box. Ms. Cullers wants to know just how far people will go for a free bag of the crinkly rice snacks. Will they push the big button up to 5,000 times? What about bowing down to the machine like it was His Highness? Will they actually perform various crazy exercises and dances for a treat?
Ms. Cullers explains that while the "what would you do" approach is classic, advertising as social experimentation in human-machine interactions is actually nothing new. She claims that adding a vending machine to the experiment reduces the human-machine interaction to mere command and response. The aggravation of a person forcing you to work for something is removed.
Indeed, after watching videos posted of people interacting with the machine, strategically placed in a busy mall, Ms. Cullers appears to be correct in her assumption. Although knowing they are being watched partaking in an experiment of sorts, people are "happy to bow down" for free snacks.