The Sending Machine: Publicis Sapient & The First Love Foundation


Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

As part of Publicis Groupe, we are committed to UN initiative number 2 – to end world hunger. This, along with our company ethos to benefit the local community, led to a partnership with The First Love Foundation  –  an organisation who provide food, support and advice to those facing crisis in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

We wanted to help them in a way that didn’t just bring in monetary support or food donations but with an idea that would revolutionise their business.

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

Through the creative use of technology and data, we built the ‘Sending Machine’ – a digital vending machine that doesn’t dispense food but sends it.

Foodbank stock data is collected and analysed and the machine updates real-time, reconfiguring itself to offer what’s required.

People can quickly send exactly the right food, at exactly the right time.

Delivery is synced with the foodbank’s distribution schedule meaning perishable as well as non-perishable foods can be donated.

The Sending Machine keeps the foodbank well stocked ensuring they can continue to feed those who need it most.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

Foodbank use is continuing to hit record numbers. Demand is going up dramatically and is putting further strain on an already fragile donation system.

What we discovered was that the foodbank relies on physical donation points in local supermarkets, schools and churches. This can result in a surplus of certain products and a perilous shortage of others.

We wanted to revolutionise how the foodbank manages its supply and demand.

Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  

During the ideation process we came up with a whole host of other ideas from holographic fridges to digital window displays.

The Sending Machine stood out due to its innovative use of data and its engaging and intuitive interface. It’s an idea that can scale and continue to support the foodbank throughout the year.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

Our main limitation was accessing the card payment service. For this project the easiest payment service to use was dependent on a mobile device. This meant our web front end had to talk to a webserver, that talked to a phone app that talked to the card machine. Getting these elements created and tested in a short space of time was a real challenge but it’s something our programmers thrive on!

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

It is great to create a product that continues to have such a positive impact for the First Love Foundation. The Sending Machine offers fantastic transparency in terms of what’s being donated and where it’s going. Those using the machine feel confident they are making a real difference to those who need help in the local community.

Are there any specific causes your agency as a whole or you yourself hold near and dear? If so, tell us about them

Publicis Sapient is committed to people and communities around the world and supports a number of causes through corporate giving, volunteering and Pro Bono projects. In the UK we have two key partners – The First Love Foundation and You Make It, an employability programme helping young woman get in to the world of work operating within Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Further to our CSR commitments outside of the office, Publicis Sapient is also committed to making the most inclusive and supportive workplace possible. Inclusion and Diversity is important to us as a business, this is manifested in our Diversity Council, Uni (French for united, ‘as together we are stronger’). The council brings together the leads of our business resource groups supporting women (Viva Women), LGBTQ+ colleagues (Egalite), colleagues from ethnic minorities (HUE), Mental Health and Wellbeing, those with caring responsibilities (Caregivers Connect) as well as our CSR team. The Council meets with leaders of our UK business and HR leads on a monthly basis to discuss employee experiences and how everyone can work together to create a more inclusive environment for everyone across the business.