Putting down the phone or turning off the computer may be a personal choice, but it’s impossible to foster a real, in-the-flesh community without interacting with other people. But what does uplugging have to do with chocolate? Read on to learn how one chocolate company used teamwork (and candy) to encourage real-life interactions and friendship.

As part of their “dare to be tender” campaign, Swiss candy company Milka set up a few puzzling vending machines in several locations around Buenos Aires, Argentina. The resulting video, produced by the chocolate purveyors, is a testament to the power of human connections and advertising (and of course, chocolate). Since it was released earlier this summer, the warm and fuzzy video has racked up over 500,000 views on YouTube.

Photo: Sitemarca

The video definitely has a message and it’s not just about selling tasty candy bars. The filmed segment begins with footage of men, women, and children sitting apart from one another, walking alone through busy streets while speaking on cell phones. The text (as translated by a Greatist editor who was a Spanish major in college) explains how Argentineans are more disconnected from each other than ever and that Milka has set out to bring them together to achieve a very small goal: free chocolate.

The video’s cheerful soundtrack, chain of strangers holding hands — the video is called “Cadena de Terneza”, which means “chain of tenderness”— and giant purple cow are trying to tell us to get together (yeah yeah yeah). The message is simple: We should stop isolating ourselves on our cell phones and interact more with our neighbors (and, hey, here’s some free candy!).

It’s not exactly rocket science that an ad campaign featuring a cute purple cow that encourages love and tenderness will undoubtedly tug on people’s heartstrings. It is telling, though, that even though this was an obvious publicity stunt, the message is right on point. Milka’s canny (and oh so cute) ads play on our nostalgia for simpler, friendlier, and more neighborly times. Although various tech blogs, start-ups, and non-profit organizations have explored the concept of unplugging, it’s clearly now made it to mainstream culture. While Milka’s vending machine is an ad for the chocolate company, it also shows how we have become accustomed to technology standing in for human interaction. Is it going to convince us to ditch our smart phones and invest in a village crier? Probably not — but it’s a pretty thought-provoking statement for a chocolate company to make.

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