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On-demand manufacturing transforms the relationship between consumer and brand.

What happens when Oreo cookies join the social network?

MAYA teamed up with Oreo and Twitter to build a little taste of the future—vending machines that let South by Southwest attendees create, print, and eat custom Oreos based on trending social conversations.

SXSW is an event where innovation, technology, and creativity are celebrated, and nowhere in Austin was that joy and wonder more apparent than the Trending Vending lounge. Over the course of the festival, thousands of SXSW Interactive attendees came to the pop-up space for a new kind of vending experience, where products were designed and built in a creative collaboration between brand and consumer.

Client:

Project Scope:

Pervasive Computing
Product & Service Development
UX Design
Experience & Service Design

Factory in a Box

The goal of the Trending Vending project was to quickly prototype a new experience that pushes the boundaries of how consumers engage with brands, and then test it on a global stage. The Oreo/Twitter/MAYA collaboration signaled a key approach that Mondelēz International (parent of the Oreo brand) has been taking to become the most innovative consumer packaged goods company in the world. Take an Oreo factory and put it into a small vending machine. Add personal preferences and desires to social networks and on-demand manufacturing, and you get a profoundly different and new model for product development.

We invited festivalgoers to participate in an experiment.

Now Trending

Algorithms translate live Twitter trends into custom cookies—each with a unique flavor combination and pattern. Each machine can create over 10,000 different cookies.

Make it Your Own

Users can mash up two trends to really make the cookies their own. The resulting Oreos combine elements from the two original trends into a wholly unique cookie.

Print On Demand

SXSW attendees could watch as the machines robotically print and assemble their custom cookies using 3D printing technology and a pneumatic pump system.

Twist, Taste, Dunk

The ultimate test was finding out whether participants thought their Oreo tasted as good as the classic they know and love.

3D Printing Oreos

To kick off the project, MAYA facilitated an innovation session with Oreo and its partners to imagine a customer journey from encountering the brand to exploring flavors to buying, experiencing, and ultimately sharing with others. The Trending Vending machine was just one of many concepts the group developed but it won the day by combining disruptive technology (3D printing) with personal/communal experience (custom cookies based on “social recipes”). Launching the idea at SXSW allowed Oreo to engage with thousands of the most savvy, connected thinkers about interactive technology. We brought two of the 3D printing vending machines to the event and the Trending Vending Lounge was born.

By leveraging 3D printing technology, the Trending Vending machine lets users create, mash up, and remix the essential building blocks of an Oreo—creme flavors, cookie wafers, shapes, and colors—to build highly customized and never-before-seen products in a matter of seconds. The result: in a little over a minute, users can design countless custom cookies based on Twitter trends, print them on demand, and enjoy them with a glass of milk.

Paper

We built a rough and ready paper prototype to help design key mechanical and choreographic interactions and communicate the high-level design concept.

Plastic

An acrylic and steel prototype was used to test details. The conveyor belt in this early model was replaced by 3D printing technology.

Fantastic

The final vending machines use a number of digital manufacturing technologies, including a Delta Bot 3D printer, dozens of servo motors, and pneumatic creme dispensers.

Dynamic Product Design

Instead of using media to get customers to like what you make, what if you could help them make what they like? That was the guiding principle behind the development of the Trending Vending machines. Each of the two vending machines in the Trending Vending lounge used trending social conversations and individual inputs to dynamically build a unique product for each visitor.

Instead of offering the same static experience for every consumer, Trending Vending lets consumers become creative product designers. B. Bonin Bough, VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondelēz International, noted, “Even an Oreo cookie can become a ‘hack.’ Even an Oreo cookie can transform what it means to connect with a product and technology and push the limits of what’s possible.” When products respond to the intersection of market-demand and personal invention, we call it dynamic product equilibrium.

Related reading:

Dynamic Product Equilibrium

A MAYA Paper by CEO Mickey McManus explores the effect that feedback loops will have on product development in a connected world.

Snapshots from the Festival

The SXSW Trending Vending experience set new records for positive social media sentiment on Twitter, surpassing previous benchmarks for both the Oreo brand and the consumer packaged goods industry.

10,000+

visitors over 5 days

That's approximately 1/3 of SXSW Interactive attendees, and over 100 people in line at any given time

45 million

total media impressions

Including 6 million top-tier online and broadcast outlets and 38.5 million social media impressions led by Twitter

With lines stretching around the block, nearly one third of all SXSW Interactive attendees waited for a chance to take part in this unique experience.

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