Quebecers buy literacy from Mots Depot vending machine

The Quebec-based literacy advocacy group Fondation pour l'alphabetisation uses an unconventional vending machine to invite the public to donate their change in exchange for words.

Treat-filled vending machines can be a source of controversy – especially when placed in schools – but there’s no way anyone could argue against the socially nutritious stunt campaign currently being executed by Quebec’s Fondation pour l’alphabetisation (Literacy Foundation) in Montreal.

Created and carried out by Montreal-based agency Bleublancrouge, the novel stunt places vending machines in various locations in Montreal. But instead of dropping chips and pop into people’s hands when they deposit their $4.95, the machine distributes packets of words, courtesy of the non-profit.

‘The idea is to buy words for people who can’t read them,’ Justin Kingsley, VP special operations, Bleublancrouge, tells MiC. ‘When you buy a word to support literacy efforts, the money that you contribute goes towards the foundation to fund programs.’

The Mots Depot vending machine is one element of a much larger literacy campaign Fondation pour l’alphabetisation has underway right now, which includes a website, TV and radio spots, t-shirts, subversive newspaper classified ads and a Facebook app.

‘It’s a real 2.0 campaign: a combination of web, word of mouth and every means of communication at your disposal to get the message out that you can help people use words when you buy words,’ Kingsley says.

The campaign is just in its initial phases and will roll out in English Canada in 2010 as soon as Bleublancrouge finds a suitable non-profit with which to partner, Kingsley says.