Give us a hug: The Coca-Cola vending machine that asks for hugs, not money, in return for a can of Coke!

Coca-Cola has created an attention-grabbing publicity stunt in Singapore - a vending machine which gives out free cans of Coke in return for hugs. The whacky idea is part of the company’s Open Happiness campaign designed to target young people in a gesture-based marketing stunt being tested out in Singapore. Students at the National University of Singapore were surprised to find that the soft drinks giant had unfurled the machine on campus overnight. 

But instead of the drinks brand’s logo, the words ‘Hug Me’ are emblazoned across its iconic red-and-white logo. Instead of paying money, customers have to squeeze the sides of the drinks machine to receive a free can of Coke. Public displays of affection are uncommon and have long been discouraged in Singapore, but are on the rise amongst young people. The move is part of a campaign created by advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather, intended to position the brand as a non-threatening ally to demonstrating youth. In a statement as part of the company's Open Happiness campaign, Leonardo O’Grady, Coke's Asia Pacific Director for Sparkling & Activation Platforms, said: 'Happiness is contagious. The Coca Cola Hug Machine is a simple idea to spread some happiness.

'Our strategy is to deliver doses of happiness in an unexpected, innovative way to engage not only the people present, but the audience at large.'Marketing gurus behind the stunt hope that it will encourage consumers to 'bring positivity, optimism and fun into their lives' and to 'open a Coke and share a little happiness'.
The machines have been such a success that there are plans to roll them out across Asia. Mr O'Grady added: 'The reaction was amazing - at one point we had four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as each other! In fact, there was a long line of people looking to give hugs.'

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