Pepsi has banked big on social media, but until now social media has not banked much for Pepsi.  The Pepsi Refresh campaign, widely lauded by social media gurus as social media done right (all engagement and halo polishing – no selling), accompanied Pepsi’s fall from #2 to #3 in sales.  So Pepsi is trying a different tack; stripping out all that social engagement nonsense that gets in the way of shopping and selling – with the new social vending machine.

Pepsi’s social vending machines are digitally-connected touch-screen vending machines that allow you to send a Pepsi to a friend (or rather send an SMS/MMS to a mobile handset in the form of a redemption code that can be redeemed at any other social vending machine) as well as buy a Pepsi for yourself.  The social vending machine has an inbuilt video camera that allows you to send a video message along with your gift of Pepsi refreshment.

And if it’s random acts of kindness you’re into – then you can gift a Pepsi to a perfect stranger; think cola-roulette, not chat roulette.

But demonstrating that Pepsi is still on the road to recovery after a distressing bout of the once fashionable “engagementitis”, the social vending machine also has a special engagement button to access the Pepsi Refresh campaign – if it’s Karma points and engagement that you want from Pepsi rather than fun and refreshment.