Developed by ad agency Lew’Lara\TBWA in partnership with Outback Steakhouse, the “Outback B-Day Chair” is designed to dole out hugs when the person sitting in it receives ‘Happy Birthday’ posts on their Facebook Timeline. Basically, it’s a way for your Facebook friends to virtually give you a hug if they aren’t sitting at the table celebrating your birthday with you. This social media concept is currently being tested in Brazil. Countries in South America have been something of a hotbed for quirky product testing as of late; Huggies TweetPee and the Budweiser’s Buddy Cup for instance.
To take advantage of the B-Day Chair, a user logs into the tablet connected to the chair using their Facebook account login information. This authorizes the application to post updates on the Facebook wall and look for interactions from friends. After logging in, the application posts a Facebook update on the user’s Timeline letting all her friends now that she’s sitting in the B-Day Chair.
When friends send their birthday wishes on the Timeline, LED lights embedded within the chair light up in red and a fan starts blowing silver tinsel in the air highlighted with a blue light. At this point, two robotic arms extend from the sides of the chair and give the user a hug from their virtual friends. The arms are covered in a felt material that’s similar to a stuffed animal or a puppet. When all this happens, the tablet takes a photo of the user’s reaction and posts it on the Facebook Timeline. This provides immediate feedback for the friend that wished them a happy birthday.
Regarding expansion plans, Outback Steakhouse plans to roll out one of the B-Day Chairs in all of their restaurant locations within Brazil. Assuming the product testing is successful, Outback could launch the chair at locations around the United States as well as the rest of the world.