Ice cream served with a smile

Unilever launches the world’s first smile-activated vending machine, rewarding great grins with delicious ice cream.

The new smile-activated vending machines

Wall's consumers smiling at camera

Ice cream makes people smile all over the world, and now an innovative vending machine is making Unilever’s consumers even happier, by dispensing ice cream in response to a grin.

The industry-leading vending machines are part of Unilever’s ice cream mission: encouraging people everywhere to share moments of happiness.

Smile recognition software

Thanks to cutting-edge ‘smile recognition’ technology, when consumers approach, their image appears on a monitor and their on-screen alter ego is playfully immersed in a virtual reality world.

They’re then prompted to give their biggest grin – measured by a smile-o-meter – before their photo is taken and, with their permission, uploaded to Facebook. Finally, their efforts are rewarded by being invited to choose a Wall’s ice cream from a touchscreen menu.

“We’re really excited about the potential this innovation holds for Unilever,” says Ian Maskell, Wall’s Global Brand Development Director. “It offers a revolutionary new way for consumers to buy ice cream, and a revolutionary brand experience.”

Going global

The smile-activated vending machines made their debut in May 2010 at a music festival in Lisbon, Portugal, and proved an instant hit with rock fans.

On the other side of world in Singapore, they’re getting consumers smiling too, dispensing free ice cream during so-called Happy Hours – and the vending machines are set to launch around the globe through 2011.

Unilever worked with creative technology consultancy SapientNitro to develop the interface and animation which brings the groundbreaking facial recognition technology to life. The initiative was presented with a coveted bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards 2010 – the advertising sector’s equivalent to the Oscars.

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