The Tech Behind Hot Wheel’s Tweet-Powered Vending Machine

February 25, 2013  |  Russ Martin  |  Comments

Over 1,500 auto enthusiasts received a Hot Wheels toy car from a Twitter activated vending machine at the Canadian International Autoshow, which came to a close on Sunday.

Made by TrojanOne, the vending machine was the same type of spinning coil machine that dispenses chocolate bars, but it was retrofitted with a Raspberry Pi – a very small computer – and connected to the internet.

The agency’s programmers then wrote a script allowing the machine to search for for the handle @HotWheelsCanada and #ChevyCIAS, a hashtag promoted by Hot Wheels’ co-marketing partner, Chevrolet Canada.

It also used geolocation technology to determine whether tweets were being sent from the auto show or another location. If the tweet was sent from in front of the machine and the user followed @HotWheelsCanada, it dispensed a 1:64-scale 1968 Camaro, a toy coveted by Hot Wheels collectors.

Over the course of the 10-day show, the company gave away over 1,500 of the toys through the vending machine. It also tripled its follower count, from 1,200 to almost 4,000 during the auto show.

Mark Stewart, director of digital services at Trojan One, said the program’s objective was largely to create positive brand sentiment both in person and on the social web.

“It was the engagement on site that was important,” he said. “It turned men into boys. They’d say, ‘Oh, I love this car sitting here and I get this Hot Wheels collectible. It had them dreaming about owning it one day.”

There was no social media buy associated with the initiative.

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