Vending machine trades tea for tweets in Twitter first

A Twitter-activated vending machine is dispensing free ice tea in exchange for a Tweet in South Africa in what developers say is the world's first sampling drive via the micro-blogging site.

The robot-like machine was set up in a Cape Town mall, where it reacts to a specific hashtag to kick into action and pop out cans of the local BOS Ice Tea brand while displaying the tweeter's username.

"It's the only one of its kind and it's the first one that we know of that is Twitter-activated," said Donald Swanepoel, creative director at marketing agency Cow Africa.

The campaign aimed to get people to taste the tea, which is made with local rooibos tea and blended with fruit flavours, while spreading awareness of the brand.

"The interest has really been amazing," Swanepoel told AFP.

"Whenever someone tweets it, all their followers read about BOS and obviously the novelty of it being a tweet-activated vending machine meant that a whole lot of media has picked up on the story and that's also gone onto the social media channels," he added.

The machine will leave the Cape Town mall on Friday and there are plans for a national tour.

South Africans are the most enthusiastic tweeters in Africa, producing the most posts on the continent with more than five million tweets in the last three months of 2011, according to a report released in January.

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