Coca-Cola on campus during Anti-Consumerism Week

Nikolas Romero partakes in Coca-Cola’s Wednesday marketing campaign because he likes how it encourages hugs. Pictures by Michelle Gamage.

A vending machine with unfortunate timing coincides with a week promoting consumerism awareness

Coca-Cola was on campus Wednesday to give away free sugary cans of pop to students.  The vending machine, which was installed around 9 a.m. on the engineering side of the EV building, read “hug me” with the Coca-Cola logo slapped on the side.

Nikolas Romero partakes in Coca-Cola’s Wednesday marketing campaign because he likes how it encourages hugs. Pictures by Michelle Gamage.
Nikolas Romero partakes in Coca-Cola’s Wednesday marketing campaign because he likes how it encourages hugs. Pictures by Michelle Gamage.

Students walked up to the machine, threw their arms around it—squeezed—and a got a free can of Coke.

Around 20 students gathered to laugh at people’s hugging attempts, capture it on camera and send photos and video to friends.

It’s a marketing campaign with unfortunate timing, according to Concordia Student Union Campaigns Coordinator Anastasia Voutou, as it coincides with the CSU’s Anti-Consumerism Week.

“Students should be taking a more combative stance against it and saying, ‘no, this isn’t the kind of garbage we want to be putting in our bodies, these aren’t the kind of companies we want to be supporting with our economic choices,’” said Voutou, shaking her head at the group of students surrounding the vending machine.

According to Voutou, Concordia has an exclusive beverage contract with Coca-Cola, so she anticipates that marketing tactics like this will be popping up around campus more often.

Mohamed Elkaranshawy, a building engineering student, disagreed with Voutou’s stance.

“I think that the idea is pretty cool itself; just hugging the machine and getting a free Coke is awesome. I think [Coca-Cola is] trying to advertise love. The more you show love and passion the more you get free stuff,” Elkaranshawy said.

Nikolas Romero, a Concordia student double majoring in French studies and human relations, sees the marketing campaign for what it is, but still enjoyed getting a free drink.

“It is a way of making publicity [for the company],” said Romero, who says he usually sees these kinds of marketing videos on Facebook. “[But by hugging] you’re showing love and you’re getting something for free, so that’s a good way to incent people to get love, and to show love more often in the wintertime.”

Voutou, who is also one of the organizers for the CSU’s Anti-Consumerism week, remains unimpressed with Coca-Cola.

Nikolas Romero partakes in Coca-Cola’s Wednesday marketing campaign because he likes how it encourages hugs. Pictures by Michelle Gamage.
Nikolas Romero partakes in Coca-Cola’s Wednesday marketing campaign because he likes how it encourages hugs. Pictures by Michelle Gamage.

“There are small cooperatives like The Hive, there are non-profits like Café X that we should be supporting instead,” she said.

“A corporation like Coke doesn’t give a damn about student life so I don’t think they’re organized enough to know what is happening and to make it coincide with Anti-Consumerism Week. However I think it is an unfortunate coincidence and it does illustrate the decimation of campus life in academic settings, and the decimation of economic choices in campus settings,” said Voutou.

Concordia security said the machine would be removed Thursday, and that the entire advertising campaign would last around 24 hours.

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