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Coke gives South Asian labourers in Dubai a phone call home in exchange for bottle tops

"Because happiness is a bottle of Coke and a phone call home"

“Because happiness is a bottle of Coke and a phone call home”

A few days after Coca-Cola delivered free cans of the fizzy drink to guest workers in Singapore via camera drones as part of its ‘Open happiness’ campaign, news has emerged of a similarly themed stunt by the company for South Asian guest workers in the Middle East.

Coke erected a phone box that takes plastic bottle tops as phone credit in the United Arab Emirates, an area known for the poor treatment of guest workers. The idea is that migrant labourers can use the bottle tops to make a three-minute phone call to their families back home.

“Because happiness is a bottle of Coca-Cola and a phone call home,” the brands says in its awards entry case study video.

An article on BuzzFeed headlined ‘Coke uses terrible working conditions in Dubai as PR opportunity’ questioned the motives behind the campaign. One comment on Twitter read: “Let’s use a slave population to brand ourselves as humanitarians!”

The company’s #CokeDrones campaign in Singapore attracted similar levels of derision in a country where South Asian labourers are known to suffer under tough working conditions for very little pay. In an opinion piece on Mumbrella, journalist Rob O’Brien, who has interviewed many migrant workers in Singapore, labeled the stunt ‘Rodeo PR’.

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