Are fruit machines the future of advertising?

fruit machine

Anyone who has played fruit machines regularly has probably put at least one coin in a slot based solely on the branding of the machine, whether it’s a TV tie-in, a Hollywood movie, or a connection with a favourite sport.

But now the opposite of this trend is making itself known in the shopping malls of the UK, with fruit machines being used to draw people in to take part in brand-driven promotions.

For example, marketing specialists Nexus Engage recently built a virtual fruit machine as part of an interactive shop window, promoting sales of the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet at the Bluewater Shopping Centre.

Complete with a row of buttons similar to the Start and Hold buttons of normal fruit machines, the display asked shoppers to choose their favourite feature of the tablet – and would then potentially reward them with a voucher for a free coffee, a discount on a Surface 2, or in rare cases a totally free tablet.

With a substantial increase in customer engagement over the course of the promotion, it’s proof positive that fruit machines are still a big draw, and a useful reminder to anyone operating a venue where fruit machine rental might add some extra entertainment to keep customers happy and on-site for longer.

Manco gaming machines: As seen on TV

As seen on TV

For any company, being asked to supply a TV show is always an honour, and if you’ve watched much TV in the past year or two, you’ve probably seen Manco gaming machines and other equipment without even realising it.

Manco gaming machines have appeared in Pot Noodle adverts – specifically for the Bombay Bad Boy flavour – and also in the series Fresh Meat, where we supplied Objective Productions with a gaming machine to use as a prop.

In Mount Pleasant it was our pool table hire services that were required, again to help put the real thing in place for use as a prop and set dressing.

But it’s not only our gaming machine and pool table hire that has made it on to the screen – did you know we also supply gym equipment?

If you saw The Big Quiz – Benidorm vs. The Only Way Is Essex, you’re likely to have seen one of our treadmills.

TOWIE’s Arg was given the task of running on our treadmill while singing That’s Amore – probably the best thing we’ve seen any of our gym equipment do on TV as of yet!

And finally, if you saw the Alien sort-of prequel Prometheus, Charlize Theron’s svelte figure may have caught your eye, but spare a thought for her body double.

We know how hard her stunt stand-in had to work to match Theron’s body shape, because we provided the treadmill she used to match the Hollywood star’s physique!

FOBTs: have we all gone horse racing mad?


If you’ve read the tabloids recently, you could be forgiven for thinking that our industry’s trade association BACTA has done the unthinkable by calling for high-stakes gaming machines, known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, to be allowed in all adult gaming venues.

FOBTs allow sizeable bets of around £50 per spin on roulette, for example (and bets of up to £100 are allowed, but only after informing a member of staff).

They are already present in almost all bookmakers’ shops nationwide, and have proved to be a very lucrative income stream for the bookies, with new shops reportedly opening up just to house extra FOBTs.

But although the government are happy to allow them in bookies, these gaming machines are not permitted in other adult-only gaming environments, such as adult gaming centres and bingo halls.

In recent weeks, BACTA has pointed out this discrepancy, calling for parity for their members – and unfortunately the tabloids have misreported the story, implying that BACTA would like to see FOBTs rolled out across the board.

The reality is that the gaming industry isn’t deaf to the furore surrounding FOBTs. They understand that asking for FOBTs in all adult gaming venues would be an own goal of epic proportions. BACTA merely asks that the government address the massive bias that favours the book makers in allowing FOBTs in bookies only.

If you doubt the advantage that this gives to book-makers, ask yourself this question, over the past five years has the number of AGCs grown or fallen, then ask yourself if the number of betting shops has grown or fallen. When you have the answer you’d be sure to think that we’ve all gone horse racing mad…. Have we?

Bad Robots – when gaming machines fight back


Gaming machines have to put up with a lot, as inebriated customers poke and prod their screens and buttons, before fumbling around the payout tray to retrieve any winnings.

So it’s little surprise that they’re finally fighting back, as part of a newly commissioned comedy series for E4.

Bad Robots is a six-part series by Objective Productions, drawing on the heritage of hidden camera shows ranging from Trigger Happy TV to Balls of Steel.

It sees electronic equipment – from gaming machines to self-scan checkouts – “giving their human users a really hard time”.

Channel 4 head of comedy Phil Clarke explains: “What happens when the machines go bad?

“This new prank shows reveals that there is nothing more hilarious, and nothing more enduring, than the human spirit when confronted by a bad robot.”

We’re yet to be convinced, as the idea of a “patently biased pub quiz machine” on primetime TV hardly sounds like a fair representation of the industry.

But with a healthy sense of humour, we’re hoping the gaming machines are the stars of the show, and are ready to help out with  machine hire services for anyone inspired to add a good robot to their premises.