From an initial brief asking for a sampling booth, the 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired Delite-o-matic was born.

Client: Fantastic Snacks
Media: Activation, Campaign, Digital, Film

Imagine a world where humanity is enslaved by machines, where its citizens are commanded to subserviently bow down before their mechanical masters. No, this isn’t a vision of a dystopian future. This is Adelaide 2013.

Among the first of many intelligent vending machines to populate shopping malls and award shows, the Delite-o-matic was part product sampling device, part instrument of torture.

Enticed by its flashing lights and chirpy melodies, passers-by were required to either mindlessly press a button up to 5000 times (around an hour) or publicly humiliate themselves on command for a free box of snacks they could easily buy across the road for just $2.

Originally intended by the client to be just a lady handing out free samples in a supermarket, the Deliteomatic instead brought to life the brand’s creative platform of ‘how far will you go for Fantastic Delites?’.

The machine travelled around Australia attracting Kanye crowds. On social media, blogs and Youtube the event prompted conversations around where they could be bought, are they really that tasty and how obsessive consumerism will bring about the downfall of civilisation.

YouTube video

At a time when the term ‘viral’ was thrown around way too much the video we created of the Adelaide event did just that.

Within hours of upload and with no media budget it had gone crazy on Tumblr and YouTube. We were in Melbourne with the machine at the time and people started to recognise it more and more. By the end of the day it was so popular we’d gone through 2 big red buttons and the machine had well and truly carked itself.

Later that week the video was being talked about on CNN. We had interview requests coming in from UK, German and South African radio stations, American talk shows, even Today Tonight did a piece on it – that’s when you know you’ve made it big. People seemed to be either shocked, confused, entertained or all of the above.

The build

Making a semi-autonomous vending machine in 3 easy steps!

The process we went through for this project was one of my favourite to date. There was no ‘dummies guide to building a sadistic machine that may take over the world one day’. After initial designs (modelled off the monolith from 2001:A Space Odyssey) it was decided it’d look like a giant pack of Delites instead. We then worked closely with the talented guys at Anifex to fabricate and program every element in the machine from the ground up. I took care of the front-end programming and on screen stuff and they hooked up over a kilometre of wiring, sensors, leds and 9 arduinos to a computer.

We built two modes to the machine; button mode and challenge mode. One was set-and-forget, the other I could log in remotely and control challenges, see people through the camera and make people (literally) sing for their supper.


From an initial brief to simply ‘do some sampling’ we created a global phenomenon.

1000s of posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr plus millions of earned media dollars and free coverage on blogs and news websites such as Huffington Post, Mashable and meant the campaign was a huge success for the client. I’m sworn to secrecy about the impact it had on Fantastic Delites sales but rest assured they sold like hotcakes.

In the following months we received a few random requests to build machines for Disney and Danone. I was also chuffed to see a machine ‘inspired’ by the Delite-o-matic pop up on UK tv’s most watched show ‘Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’. Would have been nice to get some royalties but you know what they say about imitation? 😉

The dreaded second album

As a follow-up to the Delite-o-matic campaign the client wanted to launch a new cheese flavoured pack with yet more sampling shenanigans.

This time to grab a free pack participants needed to run as fast as they could inside a giant mouse wheel. Once people build up enough speed the machine released a pack of Delites. Bonus packs were handed out for broken bones, bruised egos got nothing.