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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 7, July 2010, Posted On: 6/30/2010

Smiles Activate Unilever Ice Cream Vender

Emily Jed
SapientNitro, Unilever, vending machine, smile-activated vending machine, ice cream vending machine, Share Happy vending machine, interactive marketing, interactive vending machine, vender, SandenVendo, Cyber Lion award, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival

SapientNitro"BOSTON -- SapientNitro, the interactive marketing consultancy that helped develop the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain machine, has taken the wraps off a smile-activated vending machine commissioned by Unilever, the world's largest ice cream maker.

When the motion-activated "Share Happy"-branded machine senses someone is near, an entertaining "attractor" screen captures their attention. Once in front of the vender -- a SandenVendo machine with a Samsung touchscreen -- the person is prompted for a big smile. Using facial recognition technology, the machine's software can then recognize a person's age, gender and emotion, and measure their smile using a "smile-o-meter." See a demonstration.

The vender snaps a photo and, with the consumer's permission, uploads it onto Facebook to share with other Unilever ice cream fans. Those with big enough smiles are rewarded with free ice cream; they make their selection using the touchscreen display.

The smile-activated vender, designed to promote Unilever's ice cream tagline -- "share life's small moments of happiness" -- made its first public appearance in May at the Rock in Rio music festival in Lisbon, Portugal, and more recently was in the spotlight in Cannes. SapientNitro took home the bronze Cyber Lion award for the interactive ice cream vender at the recent Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, a prestigious annual advertising awards event. The marketing agency also won a Cyber Lion award for its development of an iPhone application for AutoTrader UK, the United Kingdom’s leading buyer and seller of used cars.

Unilever said it plans to roll the machine out into high-traffic consumer locations like shopping malls across the globe over the next 18 months.

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