In 2010, Coca-Cola pulled off perhaps the most amazing viral marketing stunt ever when they “rigged” a vending machine in the common room of St. John’s University in New York to literally hand out goodies like flowers, pizza and even a six-foot sub to students as they reached down for their coke.

Since then, a number of “Coca-Cola Happiness Machines” have come and gone around the world, but we here in Japan are still waiting our turn for a happiness free-for-all (you think we’d have had several buy now, given all the vending machines in this country).

It seems that time has finally come: Coca-Cola Japan unveiled its brand new “Interactive Happiness Machine” on Tuesday, the first of which is currently on display at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport International Terminal 1.

Yet while this vending machine shares the same name, we’re not quite sure it’s dispensing the same kind of happiness the viral videos had led us to hope for.

Developed by Coca-Cola Japan, the machine was designed to make the simple task of selecting a product and pushing a button a delightful and surprising interactive experience that allows customers to enjoy the “exciting world of Coca-Cola.”

The front of the machine is fitted with a 47-inch touchscreen panel that displays an attractive young person beckoning customers by hand to come closer and quench their thirst, but automatically switches to the product display screen when a customer comes near. Users may check the details of a product or select their purchase by touching or swiping the screen. Further interactive content is currently in development.

So basically, it’s a soliciting vending machine with a giant touch screen. We’d be a lot more “excited” if the “world of Coca-Cola” involved more free sandwiches…

It turns out all is not lost, however: Coca Cola Japan also recently launched a promotion for all of its vending machines where customers have the chance of finding a “Happy Can” stocked with one of three semi-fabulous non-sandwich prizes along with their drink.

Could it be that all this talk of “happiness” is a precursor for the appearance of a real Happiness Machine in Japan!?

The Interactive Happiness Machine is on display until April 8 at the 2nd floor marketplace of Haneda Airport Terminal 1, where visitors may try out the touch panel and receive a complimentary beverage. The machine will be permanently installed at the departures lobby in Terminal 1 on April 9.

The company plans to have several more Interactive Happiness Machines installed at large commercial complexes and other public facilities in Japan by the end of the year.

Source: Coca-Cola Japan

▼”Happiness Can” prizes: headphones, speaker badges, “beat watch”