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Pepsi vending machine takes Facebook love, not money

Pepsi's new Like Machine gives away free samples of soda for the price of a Facebook "like."

Pepsi Like Machine
A large touchscreen lets you log into Facebook.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

These days, most marketing stunts are aimed at going viral online through social-media shares. Pepsi's new Like Machine marketing stunt makes social media a requirement, not an option. The vending machine doesn't want your cash, it just wants your Facebook cred.

The Pepsi Like Machine is putting a twist on the age-old art of sampling. Normally, a hired gun dressed up in brand apparel hands out samples to anyone walking by. The specialized vending machine hands out samples, too, but you have to give it a "like" on Facebook before it coughs up the goods.

Smartphone users stand by the machine, "like" the Pepsi Facebook page, choose a soda flavor, and get their free can right away. Those without smartphones can use a large touchscreen built into the machine to log into Facebook and follow the same steps to get their soda fix. A timer automatically logs users out of their accounts.

The machine was first introduced at a Beyonce concert in Antwert, Belgium, where it was mobbed by fans who were only too happy to hand over their Facebook information for a free sample. "Thanks to this new way of sampling, we know exactly who like, tried, and enjoyed an ice-cold Pepsi," says the narrator of a video showing off the machine.

This isn't the first time Pepsi has played with social-media vending machines. Two years ago, the company introduced a Social Vending System machine with text and video messaging that linked to other machines in a network.

The touchscreen and free sodas are certainly a draw, but the Pepsi Like Machine is all about collecting data. The free samples no longer just disappear into the night, they're connected with personal information. It's an advertiser's dream.

(Via PSFK)