Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coca-Cola Tents in Shanghai: More of a "Hit"

I apologize for the recent lack of posts and blame a range of unexpected cosmic forces.  I'm back.

I'll start with something light to get the ball rolling again.  A few months ago, I commented on the curious Coca-Cola sponsored police tents in Kunming, Yunnan.  I also shared that Coca-Cola marketing can be found in less potentially controversial settings such as on umbrellas for street vendors in Zhaotong, Yunnan.

Since then, I've seen more Coca-Cola umbrellas in a variety of cities in China, such as here at a beach in Qingdao, Shandong:

However, I have yet to see any more Coca-Cola police tents.  But, a few weeks ago in Shanghai next to a large shopping center I did see some Coca-Cola tents that weren't for police:

Upon entering the tents visitors were greeted by very friendly staff and given a free bottle of Coke:

While sipping some Coke one could learn more about Coca-Cola's history:

Or play a variety of Coca-Cola themed games:

I didn't play the one above.  But when I saw this:

I thought it was a high striker (strength tester) and decided to give it a try.

I can say with pride that I hit it with quite a bit of force.

I can also say that upon hitting it I wondered if I had broken the device, realized something was amiss, and noticed that the girl seen in the photo above was a bit shocked.  As she composed herself and checked the machine she explained that you're supposed to gently press down the round button, not hit it as if you're Thor.

At least on this occasion, the device could be considered a usability or affordance fail -- my interpretation of the design caused me to act in a way not at all desired by the designer(s).  I'm happy to point out that many in the user experience field would say you should never blame the user when evaluating a design.  In this case I certainly wouldn't argue with that.

The real intended purpose of the device was to simply indicate the recommended temperature (in degrees Celsius) for an enjoyable Coca-Cola drink.  That's rather interesting since cultures can differ on preferences for drink temperature.  In China it isn't uncommon for drinks such as Coke to be available cold in the summer but room temperature during the winter - though I've seen signs that is changing in at least some parts of China.

Overall, I'm not sure whether to say the tents were effective & worthwhile from a marketing perspective.  I thought it was curious there wasn't more of crowd, especially given there was free Coke available.  I also suspected other nearby locations would have been more ideal due to higher amounts of foot traffic.  Regardless, it was probably a positive sign that a number of the people who came into the tents became engaged with the various activities available.

Anyways, personally the experience left me a more positive impression of Coca-Cola than the police tents.

I'll just make sure to ask before I hit anything next time.

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