Hug the Machine, Get a Free Coffee

That must be a pretty sweet deal, right? After giving the lonesome vending machine a warm embrace, you are rewarded with a piping hot cup of delectable coffee. This experiment was carried out not too long ago in Soho Square, London, by the advertising agency representing the UK coffee company Kenco Millicano. Not only did the coffee vending machine request hugs, but it also requested some dance moves and some engaging screaming. A human voice actor was used by the advertising agency Leo Burnett to yell, scream, and make requests of people walking by on the street. The machine could be demanding at times but also friendly, and people’s responses were, for the most part, positive (see video below).

Despite this, it appears that people still respond favourably, even in the absence of a voice actor barking out orders. A similar experiment was conducted by an Australian snack company, albeit with a machine that was significantly more aggressive and that communicated its orders by displaying words on a screen. Those who took the time to listen were rewarded with complimentary refreshments for their attentiveness.

Could you even fathom living in a world in which, rather than you yelling at the barista to get your order right, the barista yells at you, demands a hug from you, and refuses to give you your coffee until you give in and give the hug? This place we call home is absolutely bonkers.

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