Six months ago, if you’d asked me share the first thought that popped into my head after hearing the words “Dayton, Ohio,” I probably would have said, “Guided by Voices.” And if you asked me that same question today? Honestly, I’d probably still say “Guided by Voices.” But I’d also have a second answer: Innovative Vending Solutions.
Based in Dayton, IVS is something of a cross between a very forward-thinking technology firm and a bespoke vending machine manufacturer that has lately been producing social media-activated vending machines for professional sports organizations.
Last December, two Red Sox vending machines—one powered by Twitter, and the other by Instagram, and both developed by IVS—showed up at Boston’s Samuel Adams Square, where fans queued for a chance to win BoSox-themed prizes. It’s a promotion that I’m assuming was a runaway success, since literally everyone who showed up walked away with something, as long as they were willing to send a tweet or an Instagram photo with a specific hashtag attached. (In this case, it was #TheGiftOfSox.)
By now, most of know how social vending machines work: After sending a tweet, a user receives a unique code, which can be redeemed in the machine. At #TheGiftOfSox promo last December, fans walked away with everything from baseball bats and game tickets to actual pairs of socks. Take a look at the video below for more:
The machine still appears to be going strong. It’s currently located inside Fenway Park, by the Gate C entrance behind the bleachers.
Interactive Vending in Pittsburgh
Less than a week ago, fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins got their own social media-activated vending machine, also courtesy of IVS.
Aesthetically and operationally, it’s no different than the BoSox machine: It’s filled with little white boxes that contain Penguins-branded prizes, including autographed hockey pucks, bobbleheads, jerseys, playoff tickets and earbuds. (What, no Moon Pittsburgh guidebooks?!)
Users are required to tweet their favorite Penguins playoff moment before receiving a unique code that the machine accepts as currency. And while it’s not entirely clear when the Penguins plan to make the machine operational—it’s apparently not accessible during every home game—occasional updates are being made on the @Penguins Twitter account.
Here’s a news report about the machine’s arrival at the city’s Consol Energy Center from KDKA, Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate:
IVS’ Other Innovative Vending Machine Solutions
It should be noted, however, that the roughly seven-year-old Innovative Vending Solutions has historically created interactive vending machines that have nothing at all to do with professional sports. (Although last month the Cincinnati Reds unveiled their own IVS machine, which was designed to promote this summer’s All-Star Game weekend, and it’s almost a given that other pro sports teams will soon be following suit.)
If you head to the Case Studies page on the IVS website, for instance, you can learn about interactive vending machines the company has developed for Conan O’Brien (free T-shirts; shown at right) and IKEA (candy and gift cards). They even developed a machine for Google Wallet that was activated by an NFC reader.