Ad Nut
Aug 15, 2017

Clawing for attention: Sampling machines tempt Singaporeans

The curious case of Singapore's affinity for big boxes that give stuff away.

Oreo's arcade-style claw machine gives away the brand's thin lemon variant.
Oreo's arcade-style claw machine gives away the brand's thin lemon variant.

In recent weeks, Singapore residents have had opportunities to obtain not only lemon-flavoured Oreo Thins but also cans of Carlsberg Smooth Draught from large metal boxes that appeared on the sidewalks of the Lion City.

The Oreo Thins Lemon machine, placed by Mondelez, working with Carat, Posterscope and Clear Channel, is a carnival-inspired claw machine that's situated on Bugis Street. In contrast to the actual carnival machines, which are rigged to take your money and give you nothing in return 99 times out of 100, this device is rigged to make it easy for people to grab packets of the biscuits (or 'cookies', if you insist). According to a Clear Channel spokesperson, the machine is re-filled several times a day and is giving away about 400 packets each weekday, and 520 on weekends. It will remain in place until September 13.

The Carlsberg Countdown Dispenser, created by Carlsberg with OMD and Clear Channel, appeared at a bus shelter outside Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station from July 27 to August 2 and then at a bus shelter along Robinson Road from August 3 through 9.  

The machine had a prominent countdown display, and it opened up to reveal cold cans of Carlsberg Smooth Draught at 1 pm and 6:30 pm each day. Ad Nut checked, and Clear Channel confirms it had a couple of representatives on hand to make sure that no one under 18 absconded with the beer, and that people didn't get too greedy.

In press materials Ad Nut was subjected to, Clear Channel is crowing about how these "innovative" machines create a "memorable brand experience".

For example, Amanda Woo, head of commercial with Clear Channel Singapore, says in the Carlsberg release:

Challenging the norm of ‘sampling’, we built it around the idea of suspense, drawing commuters interest on what was to be revealed. We then leveraged technology meaningfully to deliver contextual messaging that will drive interest to try the new product at nearby stores. We are certain that this campaign will generate talkability and more importantly, meaningful brand experience with Carlsberg.

Although that quote has far too many buzzwords for Ad Nut's taste, Ad Nut is all for 'out of the box' thinking—or 'box thinking', in this case. And although alternate use of vending machines, both in Singapore and elsewhere, is by no means a new idea, good on Clear Channel and friends for trying stuff. It's certainly better than that weird bench idea from a couple years back (see "Cadbury's new OOH campaign lets you test out chocolate textures with your bum"). 

That said, Ad Nut also wonders if there was anything wrong with "the norm" of sampling. You know, a smiling person handing you a free packet of something as you pass by. Put another way, is whatever social buzz these box-based efforts create worth the extra effort, versus just putting the budget into a bigger traditional sampling effort? Would love to hear some feedback about that, and also whether this is a tactic that only works in Singapore (which is where the big boxes seem to pop up most often).

Finally, when is some enterprising brand going to place a machine that dispenses mixed nuts or bird seed (drool) in the vicinity of Ad Nut's oak tree? 

Ad NutAd Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. Check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame.


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