As we reflect and ponder over international affairs, the struggle for privileges, concessions, entitlement, and the ensuing hostility and antagonism appears more prevalent than the prospects of friendship. But isn’t enmity between nations, or, so to speak, enmity between individuals, sometimes evolving into an irreducible antagonism eventually a question of human will? Perhaps this very thought prompted Coke and Leo Burnett to come out with a new ad campaign that attempts to unite Indians and Pakistanis with vending machines and shows how brands can play a positive role by evoking happiness in the world through human connections.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter animosity based on political and religious grounds. To ease tensions between people of the two neighboring countries, Coke, along with the agency Leo Burnett Chicago & Sydney, developed an ambitious campaign “Small World Machines” wherein two vending machines were created, one of which was placed in India and other in Pakistan. These vending machines serve as communication portals as the citizens of both countries see each other, interact with each other, and even complete shared tasks. The vending machines dispense a Coke when the shared task is completed. With the help of 3D touchscreen technology, the machines project live, streaming video feeds on the screens while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live emotional exchange.
The three-minute ad filmed in March this year ends with the message “Togetherness, humanity, this is what we all want, more and more exchange.” And all this can be achieved by "opening a bottle of happiness."
Mistrust and uneasy ties between India and Pakistani are deep rooted and too complicated to be sorted out by Coke’s high-tech vending machines. The campaign might not be able to put the two countries on a trail of peace. Nevertheless, it is an excellent example of how advertising can work towards promoting harmony among people. It demonstrates how a drink “can connect the world” where the neighboring countries are at odds with each other over political, religious, and military differences. As Andy DiLallo, chief creative officer Leo Burnett Sydney remarked, “To be able to take two countries that have been divided and to unite them through the world’s most iconic brand, and see the purity of the experience was amazing.”
In addition to the message of unity and happiness that it conveys, the campaign also deserves kudos for the creative and technical genius. It demonstrates how technology can contribute to blur the boundaries between real and virtual. According to Jon Wyville, EVP, executive creative director at Leo Burnett in Chicago, “The biggest creative challenge they faced was that with the normal web camera or Skype technology, people rarely look directly at who they are talking to, so they decided to find a glass that was opaque enough to stream sharp images and could have live video projected through. The back of the vending machine reportedly has a large projector that streams onto the glass, which doubles up as a touch screen.”
It is remarkable to see how seamlessly Coca-Cola put it all together. Not surprisingly, the drink maker’s initiative had some heartwarming results. By the end of May, the ad video reportedly hit 1 million views. Lets hope “Small World Machines” serve as a symbol of how people can come together with a simple act of joy and spread the message that humanity is all about togetherness and happiness.
Anamika Pande Ved is a blogger, content curator, and content writer with Global Washington, a non-profit in Seattle, Washington. She is fascinated by commercials, more so if they are used for "social good." She is an avid traveler, reader, and a singer. Find her on Twitter here.