Just What Millennials Need: A Selfie-Taking, Joke-Spouting Gas Pump
Studies have found that millennials connect with brands that act like their friends, and it seems BP is taking that information very literally. The oil and gas company has created “Miles” a mechanical buddy/gas pump. Seeking to tap into a youth culture of constant connectivity, Miles enables customers to "select music on Pandora, record a video e-card to share on social media sites, or play music trivia.” Afterwards, like your human friends, Miles recaps the highlights of your hangout via text, with details of the interaction and “content created at the pump.” The new model launched Tuesday for test runs at select stations in New York and Chicago.
The project is a partnership with Pandora and The Onion, which aided in developing the talking pump’s personality and created a promotional video in which Miles’ cool repartee causes a dizzy gas pumper to fall in love with it. (“So, I met someone…” she says. “He’s a pop culture geek like me.”)
“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, in a press release. “We believe this technology could change the way people think about the typical fill-up and give consumers another reason to visit our stations.”
Tesla’s CEO is literally blasting things into space, driverless cars are on their way, and I could see how Miles might seem like a fun way for BP to speak to a demographic that doesn’t see oil and gas as the future. Unfortunately for BP (and poor, doomed Miles), it’ll take a lot more than fun to keep young people at the pump as cheaper, cleaner transportation alternatives emerge. According to a USA TODAY/Rock the Vote poll of millennials in January 2016, “an overwhelming 80 percent-10 percent of those surveyed say the United States should transition to mostly clean or renewable energy by 2030.” It’s hard to see a chatty gas robot changing those numbers.