Small World Machines Favorite 



May 19 2013


India and Pakistan

A new, three-minute ad by Coca-Cola, "Small World Machines," starts with a relatively straightforward premise: India and Pakistan do not get along so well. It ends with the promise of peace: "Togetherness, humanity, this is what we all want, more and more exchange," a woman, either Indian or Pakistani, narrates as the music swells. Sounds great. How do we get there? By buying Coke, of course.

For the ad, filmed in March, two high-tech Coca-Cola vending machines were wheeled into a shopping mall in Lahore, Pakistan, and another in New Delhi, India. On the front of each machine was a giant, touch-activated 3-D screen. The two were connected, such that the vending machine in Lahore looked like a giant window right into New Delhi, and vice-versa. The machines invited mall-goers on either end to interact with one another, for example by touching hands "through" the screen, by tracing peace signs, even by sharing a dance.

Coca-Cola's global creative director told Ad Age that the idea behind the campaign, according to Ad Age's paraphrase, was about "creating stories around shared experiences" in a way that "goes back to the roots of Coke as a brand that started at a soda fountain -- itself a communal experience." Ad Age also reports that Coca-Cola asked the responsible advertising firm, Leo Burnett, to find "new, open-hearted ways for people to come together, while highlighting the power of happiness."

There's actually more to this than you might initially think. Sharing tasks and short-term, low-risk social interactions are classic conflict resolution tactics, including as a part of the civilian-to-civilian interactions sometimes termed "track two diplomacy."

Still, track two diplomacy is a complicated, rigorous process meant to shape public opinion from the ground up by targeting influential elites and opinion-makers; "the power of happiness" is not enough. The Coke video is charming, but even acknowledging that it's just an advertisement and judging it on those merits, seems to make some surprising promises about the power of peace-making by consumerism. The ad quotes Indians and Pakistanis saying, for example, "It's like, this is what we're supposed to do, right? We are going to take minor steps so that we are going to solve bigger issues."

Link to video:

Posted by Garima on

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