The quiet success of Coca Cola’s Happiness Phone Booth

14 May 2014


Coca Cola’s latest marketing stunt in Dubai may not have filtered throughout the international social media landscape, but where it matters, the Middle East, it has made a big impact.

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By placing special phone booths in foreign workers labour camps, workers could use the caps from Coca Cola bottles to make a phone call home – allowing them to phone home for far less than usual.

A phone call from UAE to the worker’s home countries (the Asian sub-continent) usually costs $0.91 per min. A coke in Dubai costs $0.54 and for one cap they get a three minute call. Instead of costing the workers $2.73, they could talk to their families for $0.54. Considering the average take-home pay is $6 a day, the reception to the phone booth was overwhelmingly positive.

Despite some detractors of Coca Cola’s tactics, the marketing concept has proved hugely successful. Coca Cola monitored social media and found the response was 94% positive. A huge success in any company’s book.

By providing the technology the company engaged the customers on an emotional level. Emotional engagement is a proven way of successfully marketing a product. By placing their product next to the enjoyment of speaking to their loved ones, Coca Cola has cleverly given their brand a boost, not only in the minds of the people using the bottle tops, but also in the minds of the people reading about the event.

Emotional engagement in the social media age is the touchstone of marketing departments the world over. Behavioural psychologists state that 70% of human decisions are based on emotional factors. So in a purchasing scenario only 30% of the brain is using rational decision making, while the rest is formed by previous experience of a product and loyalty to the brand – they make an emotional decision.

Coca Cola understand this and their marketing is based on building brand loyalty and a better experience of their products. In creating a relationship between the word ‘happy’ and buying their drink, they are building a better customer experience.

With social media, they have seen the ‘happiness’ effect spread further than just the initial customers. The workers were filmed using the phone booths and the advert educated about viewers about the workers wages and the cost of phone calls. Seeing the smiles on the workers faces has spread their happiness around the globe through Twitter, Facebook and good old fashioned sharing by email.

For those who already have a positive feeling towards Coca Cola, seeing the happy workers gives the viewer a warm feeling from the worker’s experience. This is called the ‘Joy Response’ and coupled with re-enforcement from an individual’s social media community can ultimately drives up sales of a product.

Whether you are in agreement with Coco Cola’s marketing methods, it appears that the ‘Happiness Phone Booth’ was a success in the Middle East. The company has said that it’s using the Middle East as a testing ground for future campaigns across the globe. So look out for a ‘Happiness Phone Booth’ coming to your city soon.



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