Vending Machine Red - Coke Robot
A man dressed as a vending machine offering Coke to school girls... only in Japan.

Every culture has its own bizarre fascination with robots, but in Japan that fascination borders on outright obsession. How else could you explain Vending Machine Red? This eight foot tall robot stomped around Japan in 2007, offering school girls soda, and getting into wacky adventures. Seriously weird. Vending Machine Red was an advertising campaign by the Coca-Cola Company in Japan, and the real live robot that toured the country was actually just a guy in a suit. But that’s okay, because it fit with the Godzilla-like 70s TV show theme Coke was going for. Along with the live appearances, Coca-Cola produced some amazingly campy commercials featuring the pop-loving automaton. You can watch my favorite in the video below. A robot that protects the nation and struggles with ennui? So awesomely weird.

Before you make fun of Japan’s bizarre Coca-Cola fueled obsession with robots, best check the commercials in your own home. At the same time that Vending Machine Red was terrorizing the streets offering refreshing soda in Japan, the US was having its own drama with Coke and robots play out. Watch the US commercial in the video below featuring the music from a well known German band…also awesomely weird?

Unless you think there’s something special about 2007 or the US/Japan trade agreement that promotes absurd robotic coke commercials, I’ve evidence that the phenomenon continued and spread to South America as well. Here’s a 2009 ad that aired in Brazil and featured a real Motoman industrial robot:

Oh, and here’s a video explaining why the robot used a plate of pudding to open the bottle. Short answer: because advertising campaigns are freakin’ nuts and we love them for it.

Look, I could go on. There are more videos and photos out there that tie Coke and bots together all over the world. Seriously, Google “Coke+robots+[country]” and see what you find. It’s nuts. I don’t know what it is about robots that makes people love Coca-Cola, but the formula seems almost undeniable. I’ve always thought that our growing acceptance of robots was due to our gradual acceptance of advanced technology, but maybe it’s all been a side effect of our desire for high fructose corn syrup filled drinks. I tell you what, I’ve just developed a genius strategy for overcoming the Uncanny Valley: fill it with Coke.

Sheesh.

[image credit: Sanchome via Flikr]

[source: Laughing Squid]