How Coca-Cola Used Vending Machines To Try To Unite The People Of India And Pakistan
Relations between India and Pakistan are marked by many things—and happiness is generally not one of them. But Coca-Cola recently brought people from both nations together—or at least brought citizens of both countries face to face—over vending machines.
No ordinary vending machines, the Small World Machines, created by Coke and Leo Burnett, were equipped with full-length webcams that allowed participants to see each other and interact in real time. They were placed in malls—one in Lahore, Pakistan, the other in New Dehli, India—in March.
As part of its larger mission to associate its product with happiness
“Coke has always been a brand that’s about positivity and optimism, and we’re always talking about how we can provoke just a little bit more happiness in the world, and increasingly we’ve tried to create experiences to actually bring people together in intimate moments of connectivity,” Jantos Tulloch says.
“Telling this story through the lens of India and Pakistan really came from our team on the ground there who knows better than anyone that the people really want more positive connection and more positive communication between them.”
My dad, Charles Salter, took that photograph 32 years ago as a columnist for theAtlanta Journal-Constitution. The column was called the “Georgia Rambler.” He’d travel the state looking for colorful people and places, often stories with a historical bent. One of his best sources was the late Everett Beal, a fishing buddy of his who worked as a pharmacist in Griffin, Ga. One day, Everett showed my dad his prized possession, a leather-bound book of recipes that had once belonged to a pharmacist named John Pemberton. The John Pemberton who created the original syrup to make Coke.
“Coco Cola Improved” was scrawled by hand on page 188, above a list of ingredients. My dad asked Everett if he thought it was the original formula for Coke. “I believe it is,” Everett told him.
Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, my dad showed a photo of the recipe to Coke and asked them the same question. “We don’t as a company comment on or confirm or deny any information you present to us about the formula for Coca-Cola,” my Dad quoted a spokesman saying.
You would think a column blowing the lid off Coke’s big secret would be front-page news in its home-town paper. A column with a photo of the recipe. But on February 18, 1979, “Is It Real Thing in Old Book?” ran inside the local news section, on 2B. And that was that. Remember, this was pre-Internet. This was even pre-cable news. CNN wouldn’t launch for another year. So the Coke column remained a favorite story my dad would recount, and he’d bring out that old photo of the recipe book cradled in Everett Beal’s weathered hands.
Swag. He goes into his dad’s reaction upon finding out that the story went viral and other fun stuff. Definitely worth reading in full.