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Marketing + Science: Beverage Company Stages Honesty Experiment in South Philly

(A sign asks passersby to drop a dollar into the clear plastic money box if they take a bottle of iced tea.  Credit: John Ostapkovich)

(A sign asks passersby to drop a dollar into the clear plastic money box if they take a bottle of iced tea. Credit: John Ostapkovich)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Who knew that a social experiment could taste so good?

On a South Philadelphia sidewalk between Pat’s and Geno’s, honesty was put to the test today by Honest Tea.

At the unmanned kiosk, there was a display of chilled Honest Tea products and a clear plastic lockbox into which to put money for them.

“We have a couple of Honest Tea employees around, hiding in plain sight, in plain clothes, and basically we probably have about 60 bottles up there now, and then every half hour or so we refresh them to make sure they stay cold and refreshing and delicious,” says Honest Tea’s Matt O’Brien.

Laura and her friend put money in the box.

” ‘Cuz it’s a karmic thing,” she explained.  “If you’re honest, if you do the right thing, it’ll come back to you.”

This was actually an experiment into the honor system and results from Philadelphia will be compared to 29 other cities.  Last year even the least honest towns were paying at near 90 percent, says O’Brien.

“Overall, it’s something that we’re happy about.  It goes to show that the honor system works.  The results from last year were inspiring and we hope to do better this year.”

The honesty stats will be out next Monday.

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