We've seen the vending machine go through huge transformations in the last couple of years.
Coke did a PR stunt using vending machines where the brand secretly filmed unsuspecting users who received moments of happiness from a vending machine ... like a pizza or a bouquet of flowers.
Pepsi turned their vending machines into social gifting by allowing users to send a gift (via code) to a friend who could redeem a free Pepsi.
Coke bounced back by bringing its classic campaign "I'd like to buy the world a coke," by in turn allowing Coke fans to send a Coke to a friend anywhere around the world, via a vending machine.
We've seen vending machines from Best Buy pop up at airports and similar machines from Proactiv at malls. I even saw a beauty vending machine at a hotel in New Orleans which featured an entire line of skin care and cosmetic products.
Food coming out of vending machines is nothing new, but it's usually in the pre-packaged variety. Never fresh food, per se, at least not to my little eye. But there was a big surprise launch last week with cupcakes. A cupcake vending machine from the California-based Sprinkles bakery. And they didn't call it a vending machine, they called it an ATM! Clever!
Not too shabby that cupcakes are all the rage right now ... they're the new chocolate chip cookie.
Yes, a real life ATM machine (aka vending machine) that instead of dispensing cash, dispenses fresh cupcakes. And the fun part? Once you make your selection, a video screen shows the inner workings of the ATM as it selects and packages your favorite cupcake. Now you're going to pay a premium for 24/7 service, but it's totally worth it if you are a cupcake lover.
An innovative part of the Sprinkles brand experience. Yum!
What's your experience? Jim.
President, North America at Cohn & Wolfe
Author of "The Experience Effect" and "The Experience Effect for Small Business"
Professor at NYU