The Coke Hug Me vending machine will make a stop on the University of South Carolina Upstate campus this week. The “loveable” machine will be dispensing free cans of soda from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, April 6, outside the Food Court in the Horace C. Smith Building.
On its front, the machine features the familiar Coke wave logo on a field of red, along with the words “Hug Me.” What is conspicuously absent is any kind of cash acceptor. But anyone who obliges and wraps his or her arms around the front of the standard-size vending machine will be rewarded with a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola.
“We just thought it would be one way to liven up the mood a little bit, and promote our partnership with Coca-Cola,” said Jerry Carroll, USC Upstate director of bookstore, vending services, and CarolinaCard administrator. “The Hug Me machine has actually been on tour around the United States … mostly at universities and colleges, and it’s just now made it to our area.”
The Hug Me machine has been the centerpiece of a global marketing campaign for Coca-Cola. The soft-drink giant has posted videos on YouTube, such as this one of college students interacting with the machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A-7H4aOhq0.