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BP, Pandora inject social into gas-buying process with the Personality Pump

BP, the British oil and gas company, is bringing a bit of personality to the fill-up process by unveiling smart gas pumps that let customers connect to social media while they buy gas.

The so-called Personality Pump will connect consumers with friends and family while they make their purchases. The pumps are being tested at three locations around the country over the next few months.

"The BP Personality Pump is one of the biggest innovations at U.S. retail fueling stations in many years," said Donna Sanker, chief marketing officer of BP Fuels North America. "We believe this technology could change the way people think about the typical fill-up and give consumers another reason to visit our stations."

Personality pump
Gas is a purchase that millions of consumers make as a point of necessity. Consequently, it is a purchase that is usually seen as unglamorous and without much fun involved.

BP is aiming to combat that perception with a new feature that injects some lightheartedness into the gas purchasing process, as well as connecting consumers through social media to raise brand awareness.

The personality pump will come equipped with a tablet that lets consumers act on a variety of mobile and digital options through it. 

The Personality Pump

Consumers will be guided through the process of using the personality pump by a program named Miles. Miles will interpret their desires through a touch screen that customers can use to listen to music and play music trivia.

Miles will guide them through the various entertainment options available to them while they wait for their tank to fill up.

BP is aiming to make the wait time between purchasing the gas and having a full tank a bit more enjoyable through the personality pump?s digital and social entertainment options.

Return offer
In addition, while they wait, consumers can record a video e-card through Miles that will then be shared to social media. 

After they return to their vehicle, Miles can send them a text message with links to the content they created through the personality pump, such as the video e-card or other social posts, as well as the Pandora station they created while filling up.

Additionally, the follow-up text contains a special return offer as an incentive to get consumers to return to BP in the future.

Miles can be interacted with through a tablet next to the pump

The personality pump was developed in partnership with the Onion and Pandora, which provides music Miles to play when a customer prompts it.

Pandora is well aware of the power of both social media and mobile as tools of engagement. The brand recently said that 85 percent of its users come from mobile, giving them an incentive to invest in the channel as the future of its business (see story).

BP is joining that movement by integrating social media into the gas-purchasing process to make what is normally a trivial but necessary part of people?s lives into another opportunity for social and digital engagement.