Coke Uses Terrible Working Conditions In Dubai For PR Opportunity

In the ad, workers can use a bottle cap to pay for an international phone call.

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In an ad posted by Coca-Cola this week, the company shows how they installed a phone booth in Dubai so that poor South Asian workers could pay for a three-minute international phone call home using Coke bottle caps.

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The polarizing ad has caused people to criticize the soft drink company for capitalizing on an area known for terrible working conditions, where men trying to earn a meager wage die in the hundreds.

I dunno, Coke...maybe the misery of indentured foreign laborers in the Gulf *isn't* something to milk for ads? https://t.co/g3mHay1J7v

Tom Gara@tomgara

I dunno, Coke...maybe the misery of indentured foreign laborers in the Gulf *isn't* something to milk for ads? https://t.co/g3mHay1J7v

01:20 PM - 10 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Gulf migrants endure what often amounts to forced labour. For the eternally vile @CocaCola, that's a PR opportunity https://t.co/GskXSbNbu1

David Wearing@davidwearing

Gulf migrants endure what often amounts to forced labour. For the eternally vile @CocaCola, that's a PR opportunity https://t.co/GskXSbNbu1

01:43 PM - 10 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Wow @cocacola your completely tone deaf add is disgusting MT @tomgara: https://t.co/uxijYKkz1V

Jason Richardson@_editengine

Wow @cocacola your completely tone deaf add is disgusting MT @tomgara: https://t.co/uxijYKkz1V

01:44 PM - 10 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Is don sterling doing coke's ads now?" GUYS! Let's use a slave population to brand ourselves as humanitarians!" https://t.co/rYpZQlY22M

john r stanton@dcbigjohn

Is don sterling doing coke's ads now?" GUYS! Let's use a slave population to brand ourselves as humanitarians!" https://t.co/rYpZQlY22M

01:45 PM - 10 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

There goes humanity: offering a mere 3 min. of happiness from a multi-national to offset a modern form of slavery. https://t.co/Mg9Rmum0bD

Stephanie Jowers@stephaniejowers

There goes humanity: offering a mere 3 min. of happiness from a multi-national to offset a modern form of slavery. https://t.co/Mg9Rmum0bD

01:43 PM - 10 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The men like those shown in the ad are brought into the Middle East in large groups, working in scorching weather in an attempt to earn a higher wage than what they would make at home, and send money back to their families.

The laborers fit into a broader culture of wealthy Gulf Countries importing jobs from Southeast Asia, specifically Filipino women flown in to work as maids, and South Asia, but ultimately often work in conditions that have been described as "21st century slavery," according to the International Trade Union Confederation.

This isn't the only intersection with questionable international conditions Coke has attempted this week — another recent project had drones dropping cans of Coke on guest workers at construction sites around Singapore. An ad last month encouraged people in Bangladesh to use coke bottles for an arcade game.

Many commenters on Coke's phone booth ad are unaware of the human rights issues at play while the company romanticizes the Gulf's exploited laborers, and are lauding their efforts as admirable.

BuzzFeed has reached out to Coca-Cola for comment.

Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Rachel Zarrell at rachel.zarrell@buzzfeed.com.

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