“Telus Creates a Twitter-enabled Vending Machine” by Russ Martin, Marketing Magazine

Telus has created a Twitter-enabled vending machine that rewards tweeting consumers with toy pandas.

The machine, unveiled Monday at the Pacific Centre shopping mall in Vancouver, is part of Telus’ four-year, $1 million dollar partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, which is why stuffed pandas – the character featured in the WWF’s logo – were chosen.

The way the machine works is simple: a consumer tweets using the hashtag #hometweethome, activating the tablet-like screen next to the vending machine (pictured right). The screen displays the most recent tweets with the hashtag and a unique code for each. When the consumer punches the code into the machine, a toy is released.

For every toy panda given out from the machine, Telus is donating $1 to the WWF. The initiative is one of several recent tie-ins with the organization, including a promotion that saw Telus sell the toys in benefit of the WWF at its stores starting last month.

The company is testing the machine, created with the help of Telus’ agency, Taxi, through Saturday at the Pacific Centre. If the concept gains traction, it will consider using it at other locations, according to Dan Sorotschynski, director of digital and social at Telus.

It’s part of a larger integrated campaign, launched Nov. 18, that focuses on the WWF partnership. The campaign includes a TV spot, print ads, out of home and further social and experiential initiatives. Media for the campaign was handled by Cossette.

Sorotschynski said the vending machine demonstrates how social media and experiential marketing go hand in hand.

“At Telus our teams continually strive to blur the lines between online and offline,” he said. “For this experience, the social layer helps amplify our activity for this great cause. Every offline interaction gives a dollar, any retweet gives a dollar as well.”

Though Telus has long used all types of animals in its marketing, the brand put an extra emphasis on pandas this year, featuring CGI-rendered versions of the critters (a first for the brand, which had previously only used live animals in its ads) in an TV spot in March and at the end of its current holiday themed spot.

Last February Chevrolet Canada brought a similar machine to the Canadian International Autoshow, offering a Hotwheels brand toy Camaro to consumers at the show that tweeted using its handle and the hashtag #ChevyCIAS.