More from Coke: Opening Happiness or a Hornet’s Nest?

Your classmate Iftekhar pointed me to an interesting example of Coke’s innovative “Open Happiness” campaign. The campaign, underway since 2009, involves a series of specially modified machines that create moments of delight for people all over the world.

So far, so good. But the example that Iftekhar sent me also made me uncomfortable. It features migrant workers in Dubai, who can’t afford to call their families. So Coke produced a special phone booth that takes bottle caps instead of coins!

While Iftekhar’s interpretation was that Coke is demonstrating its social responsibility and care for social welfare (and that’s undoubtedly what Coke was intending), I can’t help thinking about how the workers, who are sending all the money they can to their families back home, have to BUY and CONSUME COKE in order to use the machines…

…if Coke really wants to help, perhaps it could hire these men and pay them a living wage instead of encouraging them to buy more Coke.

Or am I just being too sensitive? What do you think?



2 thoughts on “More from Coke: Opening Happiness or a Hornet’s Nest?

  1. Yvonne Jin

    I also believe that if Coke truly cared from the bottom of their hearts, they would hire these workers or found another way to help. From my perspective, I do not think someone should have to purchase Coke to speak to their loved ones for a longer period. Coke is such a big and profitable company that there is many ways of helping. I think Coke is trying to pull on our heart strings to show how they have making a positive impact when the underlying goal is to capitalize on sales and create positive PR. I was a little curious if these telephone booth still existed in Dubai, but I came across many comments that they were only there for a month or so. As soon as Coke had their material to create a video, they were taken down. However, I have not came across the most creditable source (link below). If this is the case, I think Coke truly cared about these workers and it only irritates me more.

  2. henrylau85

    I don’t believe that you are being too sensitive with this. Even though the ‘thought’ was there to help those who needed help, this end goal of this marketing campaign was for some type of monetary goal. It seems that recently that companies are really focusing on the emotional branding elements of their products (i.e P&G Olympics) and this is because sales of these products like Coke, are so commoditized based highly on price discounts, companies have to find ways to differentiate from each other. With the decision making process, it is likely that that rational side of the process will like touch on the price, product attributes, design etc (nearly identical for competitors in category), but the emotional appeal will be the clincher whether the consumer will or will not buy the product.
    – Henry


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