Yahoo Rips Off the Coca-Cola Happiness Vending Machine

By junipernelly / / If you’ve walked past the corner of East 10th and Stuyvesant in the East Village this week, you’ve most likely stumbled upon the behemoth purple mailbox taking up half of the sidewalk. This large foreign object is the main prop in Yahoo’s newest nontraditional marketing campaign, the purple people greeter, created by e2 marketing. The purple people greeter mailbox sat inconspicuously on the corner of the street. As unsuspecting consumers passed by it would bark out phrases or strike up random conversations, creating a fun and entertaining viral video as it captured the amusing reactions of surprised consumers. Those that were curious enough to walk up to the purple portal were rewarded with presents ranging from lollipops, bubbles, dog treats and even a few iPads. While I do think a giant purple mailbox is unique and intriguing enough to turn a few heads, I have a few qualms with this campaign. Firstly, it is painstakingly obvious that it is a direct replication of the Coca-Cola Happiness Vending Machine. While drawing inspiration from previous successful marketing campaigns can be a great way to develop creative ideas for a new brand, the exact idea shouldn’t be imitated, especially if the idea doesn’t quite fit with the brand. The idea of the happiness vending machine fit perfectly with Coca-Cola because branded vending machines already exist on sidewalks, cafeterias and in our everyday surroundings. Coca-Cola vending machines also dispense a product. These two factors are what made the happiness vending machines so successful and entertaining. When consumers approached the vending machine and put money in the slot, instead of getting one Coke, they were surprised with an entire case, or even something completely different, like a sandwich or some other tasty treat. The element of surprise, tying in with the smart idea behind dispensing unexpected gifts to the joy of unsuspicious consumers is what made the campaign work. When you adopt this exact idea, but insert a giant purple mailbox in place of the vending machine, it just doesn’t make sense. Giant purple mailboxes obviously don’t exist in the world, so the jig is already up the second a consumer lays eyes on it. They see an awkwardly branded purple mailbox with the giant Yahoo! Logo on the side of it and instantly know they are being advertised to. There is also another slight problem with the delivery of the campaign. Coca-Cola vending machines already dispense a product, so it makes sense for them to dispense gifts. Mailboxes are not used to dispense anything, so why are they trying to force the idea? Perhaps they should try using purple outfitted brand ambassadors dressed as mailmen that deliver special emails and gifts to consumers? At least that idea makes sense.