Japan Makes a Game Out of Buying a Coke

Japan Makes a Game Out of Buying a Coke

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The Japanese arm of Coca-Cola makes a case for "vending machine" as the next big mobile gaming platform.

Gamification, the process of putting everyday actions in the context of a videogame, is a little bit like the Force: it has a light and a dark side. If you and your roommates are keeping your apartment spic-and-span thanks to Chore Wars or giving your students achievements for completing their homework, you're in the clear. If you're using it to hawk unhealthy food, the utility is a little more questionable. It's not exactly clear where Coca-Cola's latest marketing ploy falls on this spectrum. Soon, Japanese Coke machines will allow smartphone users to take part in a game called "Happiness Quest," where they can customize a digital Coke avatar and rack up points through constant check-ins. This tactic will encourage Japanese consumers not only to spend more time hanging out at Coke machines, but also to seek new ones out on a regular basis.

The setup for "Happiness Quest" is pretty simple: pick your favorite Coke machine, scan a QR code, and customize your anthropomorphic, soda-dispensing buddy with a number of backgrounds and accessories. As you travel the Land of the Rising Sun, scan additional Coke machines to amass a virtual coterie of companions for your machine. Checking in under special circumstances (such as on Christmas or multiple times during lunch hours) will net you badges which, in turn, unlock more accessories. While these activities seem pretty tame, some of the more adventurous badges requiring checking in at machines clear across the country.

To be fair, none of these activities requires buying so much as a single can of Coke. However, how many times do you think a customer can scan a Coke machine (during lunchtime, no less) without dropping just a few yen on the sweet, syrupy soda? Make no mistake: this promotion is out to make regular customers out of Japanese participants. Its ultimate success remains to be seen, but assuming this promotion makes money, how long before Europe and North America see a similar strategy?

Source: Penn-Olson

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This sounds like a plot for some dystopian future movie. Really gives me the feeling that I'm living in "the future."

Japan: Another reason to go there.

*mumblegrumble* Fuckin' double post *grumblemumble*

Okay, I dare say I'll get a lot of stick from future commenters for saying this, but I'm all for this idea. Companies need to advertise, even Coke, and the less invasive and more quirky and fun the ads are, the more likely they are to work on savvy people such as us (well, I assume 'us', whoever is reading this!). I prefer less invasive ads anyway, personally. And besides, it seems like a fun little thing to try. There's no obligation to buy the product, so no problems for potential consumers. Everyone wins! This is pretty interesting to me, so I say rock on Coke, rock on...

Probably too cutesy for the West but in the land of the used panty vending machine, this will fit right in.

That tears it, I'm visiting Japan someday.

I was half expecting/hoping this would be about cocaine.

Because what we need is Japan to become as overweight and unhealthy as America!

...wait.

If only this was done with Dr. Pepper instead. I already drink enough of that as it is, and this would probably make me drink even more. Japan, games and Dr. Pepper; My three favorite things on this planet. They must come together and make me their slave!

You know...if I lived in Japan, anyway.

This will have to become an MMO at some point because I did notice the amount of vending machines in Japan was staggering!

BOSS ICED CAFE AU LAIT FOR THE WIN!!!!
Seriously miss that stuff.

Trivun:
Okay, I dare say I'll get a lot of stick from future commenters for saying this, but I'm all for this idea. Companies need to advertise, even Coke, and the less invasive and more quirky and fun the ads are, the more likely they are to work on savvy people such as us (well, I assume 'us', whoever is reading this!). I prefer less invasive ads anyway, personally. And besides, it seems like a fun little thing to try. There's no obligation to buy the product, so no problems for potential consumers. Everyone wins! This is pretty interesting to me, so I say rock on Coke, rock on...

I completely agree. It's a fun little idea and doesn't really force you to buy hundreds of cans worth of Coke.

In fact, there's already Coke Zone. That's a system that gives you points for buying bottles of Coke, which is worse if anything.

Still I think this is a fun little idea. Should be interesting to see if it spreads.

TLS14:
If only this was done with Dr. Pepper instead. I already drink enough of that as it is, and this would probably make me drink even more. Japan, games and Dr. Pepper; My three favorite things on this planet. They must come together and make me their slave!

You know...if I lived in Japan, anyway.

I wonder if Japan has something like Craigslist.

'Always wanted a family pet, but were always saddened by the fact that your pet can't verbally show their undying devotion towards you? Look no further! Human(ity) Pets has the answer. They even come with free collars. Just like in the hentais!'

In all seriousness, I would totally go be a servant for some Japanese family if it meant I got to live in Japan. (Well, I kind of want to be a servant anyway. Being a family butler is like...my dream.)

...
What?
Imeanwhatisthisidonteven...

This seems pretty dystopian, like some sort of evil business strategy.

Soo.... basically what Extra Credits warned about gamification....

Alar:
Because what we need is Japan to become as overweight and unhealthy as America!

...wait.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, though common in American soft drinks, is actually not used in many others. If you live in Western America, check the ingredients for coke in the soft drinks section, then go to the Mexican specialty section and look for those bottled Cokes. Rather than HFCS (which is very very bad for you and WILL make you fat), they use ordinary natural, totally safe sugar. It's safer, better, and less likely to "Americanize" the Japanese waistline as long as they too, use sugar.

Yeah, I used your post as a flimsy excuse to enlighten others, what of it?

Trivun:
Okay, I dare say I'll get a lot of stick from future commenters for saying this, but I'm all for this idea. Companies need to advertise, even Coke, and the less invasive and more quirky and fun the ads are, the more likely they are to work on savvy people such as us (well, I assume 'us', whoever is reading this!). I prefer less invasive ads anyway, personally. And besides, it seems like a fun little thing to try. There's no obligation to buy the product, so no problems for potential consumers. Everyone wins! This is pretty interesting to me, so I say rock on Coke, rock on...

I agree. A pretty damn clever idea.

Oh Japan, you're so crazy.

Someone watched that movie Motorama?

DSK-:
Japan: Another reason to go there.

I can't wait to see how many people will mistake the vending machine dress as a vending machine on which to play this new game. (no preview so I hope that link worked)

Anyway, I'm a bit surprised. If this thing catches on, like I'm sure it will, then it's only a matter of time before those kind of Coke machines are brought into Air Ports at the very least. If achievements/badges are involved, than it's only a matter of time before the "Around the World" one comes about. If this game does go global though, I don't see it reaching far beyond airports and, maybe train terminals though. I think it would be pretty great though, especially if it ties into the Coke Rewards program.

"This tactic will encourage Japanese consumers not only to spend more time hanging out at Coke machines, but also to seek new ones out on a regular basis."

I've been in Japan, and Coca Cola machines are EVERYWHERE. Even in microscopically tiny villages in the wilderness there's MANY. It's insane really. In Tokyo they bunched them up, 3-5 of the same ones next to another on a street corner. And guess what the NEXT corner has lined up for you?! Great way to stay hydrated during the murderously hot summer tho!

I stopped reading as soon as you mentioned 'unhealthy'.

Sorry, but they're not. What's unhealthy is drinking six of the fuckers in one day. Consume them in moderation and they're no less healthy than water or milk.

TestECull:
I stopped reading as soon as you mentioned 'unhealthy'.

Sorry, but they're not. What's unhealthy is drinking six of the fuckers in one day. Consume them in moderation and they're no less healthy than water or milk.

Except for the sugar and calories, otherwise you good to go. Oh wait...

TestECull:
I stopped reading as soon as you mentioned 'unhealthy'.

Sorry, but they're not. What's unhealthy is drinking six of the fuckers in one day. Consume them in moderation and they're no less healthy than water or milk.

I actually never said that Coke was unhealthy. If you follow the link, you'll see that it leads to a McDonald's advertisement. Your point stands that it's not harmful in moderation, but it's not especially good for you.

I just can't see this kind of thing catching on in America. American vending machines are so boring compared to their Japanese counter parts. I've seen Ramen vending machines, and cigarette vending machines, pizza vending machines and grilled cheese ones as well. The best you get in American is pre-packaged snack foods and if your lucky, a newer vending machine that accepts a card instead of cash only.

Icehearted:

Alar:
Because what we need is Japan to become as overweight and unhealthy as America!

...wait.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, though common in American soft drinks, is actually not used in many others. If you live in Western America, check the ingredients for coke in the soft drinks section, then go to the Mexican specialty section and look for those bottled Cokes. Rather than HFCS (which is very very bad for you and WILL make you fat), they use ordinary natural, totally safe sugar. It's safer, better, and less likely to "Americanize" the Japanese waistline as long as they too, use sugar.

Yeah, I used your post as a flimsy excuse to enlighten others, what of it?

Eh, I don't care. I wish we could get more sodas made with real sugar, though. Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback are good examples of American companies making them with sugar... however, an excess of sugar WILL still turn into fat, if you don't burn it off.

I hope that the use of corn syrup will not spread!

I think it's official gaming is the next big entertainment medium. 20 years from now there will be almost no one around 15 years old saying yeah I never really got into videogames. It will be like someone saying I really don't like movies or tv in general...

Wandering_Hero:

TestECull:
I stopped reading as soon as you mentioned 'unhealthy'.

Sorry, but they're not. What's unhealthy is drinking six of the fuckers in one day. Consume them in moderation and they're no less healthy than water or milk.

Except for the sugar and calories, otherwise you good to go. Oh wait...

Again, moderation. Sugar and calories are not, by default, unhealthy. Matter of fact you need them. The key is to not take in more than you need.

Dear Family:
If I suddenly disappear for a period of time, I'm not dead.
I'm in Japan.
And I'm finding everyone of those damn things.
I will make a soda machine with a top hat and a Hitler mustache. Because it would be adorable.

keideki:
I just can't see this kind of thing catching on in America. American vending machines are so boring compared to their Japanese counter parts. I've seen Ramen vending machines, and cigarette vending machines, pizza vending machines and grilled cheese ones as well. The best you get in American is pre-packaged snack foods and if your lucky, a newer vending machine that accepts a card instead of cash only.

Well, new touch screen coke machines are spreading, and I've seen a few with hot, pre-packaged meals on the inside. It won't be as crazy as in Japan, but if the machine already has touch-screen tech built in, why not include a QR code?
NOTE: I did not mean that the coke machines had meals. Those are two separate machines. Though it would be awesome to buy a coke and a sandwich from the same machine.

Man, part of me thinks this is step one towards Cyberpunk Dystopia, but part of me thinks it's awesome. Like in a game where you have to find several of a common object for some quest or another, only it's in the real world. I wouldn't even go after new machines, just scan the ones I found whenever I deviated from my routine.

Alar:

Icehearted:

Alar:
Because what we need is Japan to become as overweight and unhealthy as America!

...wait.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, though common in American soft drinks, is actually not used in many others. If you live in Western America, check the ingredients for coke in the soft drinks section, then go to the Mexican specialty section and look for those bottled Cokes. Rather than HFCS (which is very very bad for you and WILL make you fat), they use ordinary natural, totally safe sugar. It's safer, better, and less likely to "Americanize" the Japanese waistline as long as they too, use sugar.

Yeah, I used your post as a flimsy excuse to enlighten others, what of it?

Eh, I don't care. I wish we could get more sodas made with real sugar, though. Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback are good examples of American companies making them with sugar... however, an excess of sugar WILL still turn into fat, if you don't burn it off.

I hope that the use of corn syrup will not spread!

Actually you can't burn it off per se, but you can metabolize things better depending on one's level of activity. Unfortunately HFCS is already in a lot of our (American) food thanks to Nixon, even whole grain "healthy foods" like bread have it. It's cheap and easy.

I tried the Mexican vs American coke, there was definitely a difference in taste, and on the Mexican bottle I could pretty easily pronounce and understand all of the ingredients.

Yeah.... I continue to use your posts as a flimsy excuse to enlighten others. Hope that's still cool, though.

Ugh, I think it's really disgusting. Once you turn corporations and advertisers onto the idea of games as not just propaganda, but a part of their product, marketing can get even more invasive, subtle and manipulative. If anyone on these forums has EVER thought the subtext to a Call of Duty game, or Gears of War title was at all troubling (what it makes people think of or NOT think of, how it affects the way we view our world), imagine how much worse it can get when you've got groups like Coke, McDonald's and Taco Bell trying to reach you, (and worse, your kids) with "games" that revolve around physical purchases (because even though that's not a component here, it's implied. You can bet somebody will do it eventually, if they haven't.) and continued interaction with the store.

When you reward people for continually returning to your establishment and seeking out new locations (also owned by you) in order to buy more of your crap, it seems to me to be a clear case of conditioning consumers. Considering the myriad ways we are already influenced to buy crap in America, do we really need another advertising "innovation" like this? And yes, I consider this quite different from a "Cool Spot" video game or some ads in Bionic Commando. That stuff isn't so clearly tied to the real world.

shadyh8er:
This sounds like a plot for some dystopian future movie. Really gives me the feeling that I'm living in "the future."

I thought we lived in the present.

I have no problem with companies wanting to advertise their stuff, so long as it's non-invasive. And I like Coke, as horrible for you as it is. It's too bad I don't have a coke right now...

Stupid Diet A&W Root Beer! You're just not the same! T_T

Who here thinks the Coke machine will be the next hip place to hang out in Japan?

 

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