All images from Coca-Cola Japan's web site.
One of the clients which my company dealt with when I was working in Japan was a maker and distributor of vending machines. Prior to the March 11, 2011 earthquake, their main concerns were maintenance, distribution, and making the machines appealing to use relative to purchasing in shops. For example, they would build in little games that would reward people for buying a drink on rare occasions. They worked on the same principle as a slot machine, only with fewer wins.
After the big quake, setsuden, or energy conservation kicked in so that the nuclear reactors could be shut down and setsucden continues to this day so they can continue to keep them out of operation. When I spoke to employees of the client that made such machines later in 2011, their main focus shifted entirely to finding ways to keep drinks in the machines cold or hot while reducing the energy use. They were worried that the number of total machines would be reduced if they didn't lower energy consumption. If you make vending machines, the last thing you want is for fewer of them to be in use.
A man puts up a sign talking about Coke's power consumption efforts.
One of the ways in which they accomplished this was by using LED lights, using better insulation and by reducing refrigeration during certain times. They rotate turning off the machine for 3 minutes during peak hours. Apparently, their attempts to reduce the energy footprint were so successful that they have been awarded the energy conservation grand prize. This may not sound like a big deal, but there are a lot of vending machines in Japan and the aggregate savings not only helps cope with the diminished capacity to supply energy, but also lowers Japan's carbon footprint. Every little bit, especially on the corporate level, counts, and they've reduced the energy their machines use by 33%. (Let us all collectively pat, Coca-cola Japan on the back for a job well done.)
Though it may seem that they have done nothing but toil on energy reduction engineering, they're continuing to try to find ways to make using the machines more fun. To that end, Coca-Cola Japan has introduced an AR "apply" (app) that allows smart phone users to have an "augmented reality" (AR) experience with a vending machine. That would be a lot more scintillating if the vending machines were dispensing marital aids or adult materials, but what kind of AR would make using a Coke machine better?
This is a video showing some of the capability of the AR app for smartphones when used with a Coke machine. By the way, at the very end, I believe the guy holding up the hats is trying to say, "coming soon" in English, but I could be wrong. It comes across as very garbled to me.
It turns out that the bonus is that you can interact with the cute little polar bear graphic on the machine using your smart phone. If you touch him in various spots (and I know what you're thinking you perverts), he'll sneeze, giggle, etc. You can also see commercials for a few of the products stocked in the machine because, you know, you would like more chances to view advertising.
Coke makes a big to-do about choosing the polar bear image because it is a symbol for the effects of global warming. However, the polar bear has been in Coke ads since long before anyone ever started talking about climate change. Though there is a connection to melting polar ice caps, I think the real reason is that they're just so darn adorable that they're hoping you'll want to install their app so you can rub his tummy and watch him laugh.