“Interactive ‘Jell-Oh Face’ Vender Draws Crowds In Canada” by Emily Jed, Vending Times

TORONTO — A one-of-a-kind vending machine was the center of a high-profile Jell-O sampling event here at Yonge-Dundas Square in late June. Several thousand Canadians interacted with the vender to sample a free pudding — and enjoy 15 seconds of fame.

After activating the closed-front, refrigerated machine with their best “Jell-Oh Face” — recognized by a built-in digital camera — participants were prompted to select a pudding from the 15″ interactive touchscreen display. Kraft described a Jell-Oh Face as “the expression you make when you taste something so delicious, so pleasantly fun and so unexpected that you just can’t contain yourself.”

Each person’s Jell-Oh Face appeared on a 42″ LCD mounted atop the machine, and for 15 seconds on the biggest digital billboard in Yonge-Dundas Square. Participants also received personalized coupons that included 8.5″ x 11″ glossy color souvenir photos of their Jell-Oh Faces.

Kraft shared the images on the Jell-O Canada Facebook page and encouraged fans to take photos of their mugs on the billboard to share with friends on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #JELLOhFace.

Consumers also had the chance to participate in the event remotely by using the Jell-Oh Facebook app to share their expressions and receive product coupons.

“When we thought about capturing the fun and uniqueness of Jell-O, we just had to look to the faces of Canadians and their lively reactions to eating it,” said Amy Rozinsky, senior brand manager of Kraft Canada. “Whether it’s a Jell-O Mousse, creamy pudding or classic Jell-O gelatin, it always puts a great expression on their face. It’s what we now call a Jell-Oh Face and the inspiration behind the vending machine.”

The machine was developed by Dayton, OH-based Innovative Vending Solutions, which worked closely with Edelman, Kraft Canada’s Toronto-based public relations firm, to customize a hardware and software solution for the campaign.

Jell-O Stage

“It was very well received; people lined up for free samples and the chance for people to see their faces up on the screen,” said Jeff Thibodeau, IVS vice-president of operations. “It was amazing to see images up on the billboard — which is as high-profile as the one at New York’s Times Square — and know that they originated from the vending machine.”

IVS has developed machines for a number of novel vending machine promotions, including a recent t-shirt giveaway tied in with the Conan O’Brien show. | SEE STORY

Late last year, Kraft Foods piloted an adults-only Jell-O sampling machine in the U.S. that featured full-length LCD touchscreen displays on three sides and facial recognition technology. | SEE STORY

An adaptation of the interactive vender for widespread use beyond sampling made its industry debut at the recent National Automatic Merchandising Association’s OneShow in Las Vegas. | SEE STORY