Free samples are sometimes a one-way street. Companies traditionally give out gratis products with the hope that doing so will result in future business, but it's never a sure thing. Pepsi combats this problem with its new "Like Machine," which essentially trades free Pepsi samples for a consumer's Facebook information.
Here's how it works: The machine, which recently debuted at a Beyonce concert in Antwerp, Belgium, offers a free Pepsi to consumers who "like" Pepsi on Facebook via their smartphones or a touch screen on the machine's display.
It's certainly a novel way to boost Pepsi's reach on Facebook. A video featuring the machine shows throngs of people "liking" Pepsi and happily retrieving cans of soda. "Thanks to this new way of sampling, we know exactly who like, tried, and enjoyed an ice-cold Pepsi," says the video's narrator.
But to us the voiceover is almost ominous. If all companies operated this way, our Facebook feeds would suddenly be overrun with branded messages. There's also something unsettling about big companies having access to our personal information. Maybe we're being paranoid, but online tracking is already widespread. Time to update those privacy settings.
What do you think of Pepsi's Like Machine?