The best of non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes

“No one chooses to eat garbage”, especially not college students

“No one chooses to eat garbage”, especially not college students

In December, the Salvation Army of Canada and Bermuda partnered with the Centre for Creative Communications at Centennial College in Toronto to place a “one-of-a-kind” vending machine on campus as part of a food insecurity awareness campaign produced by GREY Canada.


Stephanie Nerlich, President, GREY Canada explained: “While most vending machines are filled with tempting treats like chips, candy and chocolate bars, this machine houses synthetic waste, including moldy foods, rotting fruit and half-eaten snacks, to disrupt everyday notions of choice and availability. The vending machine reminds passersby that although no one chooses to eat garbage, it’s an everyday reality for many Canadians.”

Naturally, the best bit of any temporary placement like this is the highlights video to be shared online! Salvation Army has just shared one that captures students’ reactions to the unexpected items available inside the machine.

Don’t worry, the machine doesn’t actually dispense garbage! Staff and students could only make a donation to the Salvation Army by dropping coins into the slot.

The vending machine was part of a larger “Simple Dreams” campaign aiming to “educate a younger demographic, that typically wouldn’t donate financially to the organization, about Canada’s hunger tragedy.”

Creative, shocking or unexpected things in vending machines makes for memorable guerilla marketing. Do you remember the Coca-Cola’s Spreading Happiness machines from a few years ago? This summer, Australia’s chip brand Delites set up a similar prank vending machine in a public square, but its tone was far more sadistic, asking people to complete Stanley Milgram-esque challenges to win treats.

Here’s three other examples of vending machines & charitable causes:

UNICEF’s “dirty water” vending machines in New York included a text-to-donate campaign:

Japanese vending machines configured to allow commuters to make a donation to the Red Cross:

IKEA’s vending machines recycle lightbulbs for donations to charity:

Does this kind of guerilla marketing spark any ideas in you?

The Salvation Army of Canada and Bermuda
GREY Canada

I am Director of Digital Philanthropy at Artez Interactive and not-for-profit veteran. Read more
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