A Boston advertising agency is brewing its own beer and giving it away to employees through a unique vending machine parked right in the firm’s in-house bar.
Arnold Worldwide — the agency behind familiar campaigns for McDonald’s, New Balance, and Progressive Insurance — installed Arnie the Beer Vending Machine in its 17th-floor “Barnold” in the Prudential Center last fall. Arnie dispenses 10 different types of custom-brewed beer, each with a humorous tagline matched to the style of beer and intended to promote conversation.
As previously reported in the Boston Metro, Arnie was developed through Arnold’s “Make Project,” which has dedicated $100,000 to encourage staff to “manage less and make more.” The machine was the first scheme realized through the program, which invites Arnold staffers to pitch their own innovative projects to executives and get funding to make them a reality.
In a video, Pete Favat, the firm’s chief creative officer, explained that Arnie exists to encourage sociability in the office. Todd Buffum, a digital producer, said, “When we pitched the idea to the executive team here, we came at it from a standpoint where it’s more than just a machine that’s going to sell beer. It was really a tool for the agency to show off our tech chops.”
The team behind Arnie used technology to imbue it with communication skills and a personality of its own.
The machine can recognize staffers through radio-frequency identification, “talk” to them while they place their order through a touch-screen interface, and use its Twitter and Facebook accounts to announce refills and invite staff members to hang out.
Arnie is programmed to issue a hang-out invitation any time five people get beers within a 20-minute span.
Arnold staff member Katherine Oppenheim posted on Arnie’s Facebook page, “He understands me.”