The quiet success of Coca Cola’s Happiness Phone Booth


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.



When nearly half of social media users purchase an item after sharing it on their social media accounts, it’s no wonder marketing departments are pumping so much money and effort into harnessing the purchasing power of a great social media campaign. Here are some of the best (and worst) to give you some inspiration for your next social media marketing move.

Rising Stars


Are you able to score highly in social media marketing?

Juventus – one of Italy’s oldest football clubs connected with fans in the modern of ways for a truly innovative social media campaign. Using a Facebook app, the club encouraged supporters from all over the world to submit a pre-match choreography for the seated fans to perform live on TV. A very impressive 3,000 choreographies were submitted, and tweets using the hashtag #LoveJu were displayed on a big screen in the stadium before the match as well.

Land Rover – it’s easy to sell an adventure when the sun is shining, but on a cold, damp, very wet winter’s day? Well that’s what the team at Land Rover decided to do with their #Hibernot campaign. Land Rover drivers have been encouraged to post their winter activities onto the Hibernot website. Supported by traditional tv ads, and some celebrity blogs on the site, this is an innovative way to tap into the rugged culture of Land Rover drivers.

Chili’s Grill and Bar – has nearly 4 million likes on Facebook where they encourage customers to leave reviews of their visits and follow-up on those reviews. One customer told the company how much she loved two servers at her local diner. The company blogged about the review, and also pictured the two servers receiving a gift card from Chili’s as a thank you from the company.

The company is all about local community and, although it is quite low key, this type of interaction gives a large international company (that has outlets in London, Dubai, Melbourne, and of course all over America) a friendlier online face to its local customers.

Blendtec – one of the oldest social media success stories, that still resonates strongly today. Blendtec hit all the right buttons with its ‘Will It Blend’ series of videos. Not only did their sales increase by a reported 700 per cent, they were featured on prime time television shows and major new outlets. The idea was to video lots of different objects being blended, the more outrageous the better. A simple concept that appealed to millions of YouTube viewers because the company wasn’t being slick, just having fun with their product.

Poor show

Reiss – sitting at the more expensive end of the high street fashion, Reiss garnered a little over 100 entries into its Pinterest competition. The prize was £1,000 to spend in one of its stores. Considering the 3,000 entries Juventus received, Reiss failed to hit the sweet spot in a choice of medium that should have done well for them – Pinterest is predominantly female and very image focussed.

Ragu – A classic social media failure from this sauce company. They created a series of videos to encourage Dad’s to cook more. Unfortunately, the videos were of wives complaining about their husband’s not cooking – which rankled the bloggers Ragu targeted to promote their videos. Although there was some social media chatter about the videos, it was predominantly negative. The lesson learnt here was not to annoy the very people you want to engage.

For the last three years marketing departments all over the world have been shouting about harnessing the power of social media. But is it right that business invades social interactions online? Does the Facebook account of a young businessman in Dubai need the intrusion of a local bakery touting their latest offer?

Well, according to a recent study by the Dubai School of Government, that’s exactly what entrepreneurs in the region want to happen. From a poll of 5,000 young people from throughout the Middle East, 86% believed social media would empower entrepreneurs with branding and marketing. Another 86% believed it would help them tap into wider markets.

So social media has been fully embraced as a strong marketing tool. But is this view mirrored by the users of social media? According to a report by Bayt (a recruitment company), over 47% of people polled in the Middle East say they actively follow business social media vehicles (other than the social media from the company they currently work for).

And the top brands being followed? Well unsurprisingly N2V, the internet company, tops the Facebook chart with over 260,000 fans, followed by The Dubai Mall’s Facebook page. But liking a page isn’t the same as actively engaging with a company’s social media. Air Arabia can only be applauded for with their efforts in building a engagement rate of 0.31%.

These results show that people in the Middle East are as happy as the rest of the world to get involved with their favourite brands through social media.

Social media is growing rapidly in the Middle East. 88% of the Middle East’s online population uses social media sites on a daily basis. Which is over a third of the population of the whole of the Middle East.

Although numbers cannot be exact (as they are growing every day), a survey early in 2013 put Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn firmly at the top of the social media tree. Facebook users were 58 million, Twitter 6.5 million, and LinkedIn 5.8 million.

However, in the UAE LinkedIn outstrips Twitter, where 12% of people use LinkedIn, Twitter gets a paltry 3%. This could be down to the more professional focus seen in professionals in the region. Something that is backed up by another survey by Bayt. In the whole of Mena, 9 out of 10 professionals said they’d gone online to search for people they had either met, or were going to meet, while 8 in 10 said they’d googled themselves: proving the UAE professional is obviously very internet savvy.

With nearly a third of professionals admitting to spending more than five hours a day online, the internet has penetrated both business and private lives of people living in the Middle East. For marketeers this shows there is a real appetite for online content. As people rely more and more on social media to find great content, it is not a case of whether businesses should be engaging people through social media, It’s more a case of businesses becoming more creative in finding the best strategies to engage people.


bank audi

Did this campaign bring out the artist in you?

An example of this was Bank Audi’s ‘Card Artist’ social media campaign. The bank encouraged people to completely personalise their credit cards, then post a picture of it on the bank’s Facebook page to possibly win a cash prize. It took just a few days for Bank Audi’s Facebook page to gain 2,000 fans. As a consequence of their hard work on their social media, Bank Audi won the 2012 Middle East Internet award for Best Social Media Campaign in the Financial Services category.

Whether your customers are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat, further afield, or closer to home, using social media cleverly is not only welcomed by social media users in the Middle East, they can become active participants in building your brand online.


Done right, social media is a brilliant marketing tool for your business. But so many businesses get it wrong. They either dive right in and join Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, start a blog and think that will be enough, or are so scared and confused by social media they don’t get involved at all.

The trouble with the first approach is that by the end of the first quarter you will have wasted a huge amount of human resource and have little to show for it. Not getting involved at all is means your company will miss out on the most important evolution in marketing since television advertising was born.

Find the right vehicle(s)

As with everything else in business, research is the key to getting the most out of your marketing budget. Find out where your customers hang out online. Are you a B2B, B2C, or both? Find out which blend of social media will work for you to reach your customers.

clare ebbs

Clare from Dubai wedding planning company "The Perfect Moment" uses facebook,twitter and Pinterest

The top social media vehicles are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. But if your business is selling wedding planning services, you’ll want to be on Pinterest and Instagram to post pictures of your latest wedding plan at the Madinat complex. If your company is international, sending salesmen and executives all over the world, you may find FourSquare a brilliant way to connect with people when you land in New York or London.

Get the vehicles right and you are well on the way to building a successful online presence.

Engage your customers

Social media is a two way street. Back in the pre-internet days, companies relied on TV and print advertising, in-store promotions, conferences and business networking events to engage with customers. Now you can create a continuous dialogue with people through sharing both yours and their videos and pictures of products and events.

For example, if you run a competition the internet generation winner will often post a picture of their prize. So you share that picture. If you are running a promotion in store, finding out who people are and sharing pictures of them is almost expected. People like to share their experiences in life, and the commercial world is part of that experience.

Structure your customer service

A complaint can move quickly on the internet, which is why it’s important to get your customer service response outlined before you go online. This way, when a customer tweets they hated the way one of your shop assistants treated them, or how disappointed they are in a shoddy product, you can react quickly. Complaints aren’t a disaster. If you treat the customer fairly, find out what has gone wrong, and fix the problem quickly (and even offer a voucher as compensation), you’ll not just make them happy, they’ll be more likely to stick with you in the future. Conversely, if a customer has said something nice, do share it!

Don’t stress about going viral

Don’t worry about going viral. Your business will survive without ten million people hits on your YouTube channel. Viral videos happen two ways. One is the spontaneous one, where someone makes a video that is so funny it becomes an instant hit. The other is achieved through spending a lot of money and time working with a marketing agency.

The point of making a video or taking a photo is to spread it to your fan base. Share it around on whichever social media vehicles you use. It may not go viral, but it should be interesting to customers. Done right, you’ll get some people sharing it through their preferred social media, and that’s the goal. So don’t sweat the viral challenge, just get the basics right for your particular audience.

Find out more about how to use Social Media more effectively for your Dubai business here: /courses/digital-marketing/index.php

Using LinkedIn to create leads and sales is a must in today’s marketplace. There are no excuses for small businesses to not be on LinkedIn. It is the place where businesses get together to socialise, network and most importantly, to do business. In a recent survey over 20% of all levels of management using LinkedIn were using it for networking purposes. Where once it might have been seen as a time-suck, LinkedIn is now a bone fide platform to network and find new business in the Middle East and elsewhere.

So if you’ve not been on before, here are a few handy hints for using LinkedIn for your sales and marketing strategy this year.

Create a profile

Unbelievably many small businesses still don’t have a profile on LinkedIn. Some of their staff may have a profile of their own, but without all the company being linked together on the site, you are missing out. Not only can you look at other people’s profiles, they can look at yours. For a small company this means you have to have a company profile with your staff and with their profiles. Anyone who looks at this will see you are a transparent and a real company – i.e. someone they can do business with.

Make sure your company profile is complete and gives a call to action in it. This could simple be a ‘give us a call on…’ or ‘visit our website’.

Join groups

Just as in life you have to get out and about and talk to people. Socialising on LinkedIn means finding groups where your prospects are hanging out. So, for example, if you are selling swimming pools you may want to find contacts in hotel chains. The best place to find those people is in hotel groups. Don’t forget to be visible within your own business niche as well.


There is a free version of LinkedIn, which for many people is the ideal starting point. But once you’ve got past the learning curve the only way to really understand how you can make good connections on LinkedIn is with paid membership. Paid membership for LinkedIn gives you more in-depth search capabilities and allows you directly mail someone.


This is the big tool for most sales people on LinkedIn. It can be difficult to get your prospect to take your call or read a standard email. But on LinkedIn an InMail is delivered straight to their mailbox in LinkedIn. They may still not read it, that is true, but it gives you an edge you’d otherwise not have.

Build your connections

Creating sales opportunities through LinkedIn means creating connections. You can start with family and friends to ease yourself in gently. Then get serious by looking at your prospective clients websites and seeing if they have a LinkedIn button on their site. If they do then use it!

But also think about your offline activities. When you meet someone at a business event it is usually acceptable to connect with them afterwards on LinkedIn.

The best way, and the most laborious way is to search for companies and people you want to make a connection with.

Target your searches

LinkedIn is a brilliant way to find exactly the person you need to talk to in a business. If you know the name of the company, a quick search in LinkedIn will most likely bring the company LinkedIn page up – with a list of who works for them. This means you can see instantly which person is most likely to be the one you need to talk to. As an advanced member you can also see the full profiles of people you don’t yet know.

Don’t be too pushy

Nobody likes a pushy sales person whether they are at a conference at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, or meeting with them in their office. So keep it personable and don’t do the hard sell. Use your common sense, or rather your sales sense here. Don’t do the hard sales push with a LinkedIn connection when you know more work needs to be done first.





Are you creating enough of a buzz around your products ?

Just about every website has a couple of social media buttons, but just how effective have your social media efforts been? Are you really making the most of the opportunity to market your Dubai-based company on the internet?

Well the answer is no if you are simply Tweeting, updating Facebook occasionally or just sat there watching your LinkedIn account.

Social media isn’t a stand-alone component of your marketing plan. By integrating social media with the rest of marketing activities, your chances of success significantly improve.

More and more, marketing departments are realising that they need a cohesive strategy based around something called Content Marketing. This is where you create content on your website (and social media sites) to disseminate across social media and traditional media, to increase awareness of your product or company.

The concept of Content Marketing is fairly new, but as with all new marketing ideas, planning is the key to making it a success.

The 12 month plan

This is your master plan, with milestones plotted in. Every good marketing department should already have one of these. It gives you and your team a firm foundation of what is going on. You place each product launch, each marketing effort, industry conference and exhibition on your plan.

Example: if you are creating a TV ad you pencil in the air date, the date you are posting it on YouTube and when you are going to mention it on the company blog.

The six month plan

Here you give your marketing team a clear target to hit at the half way point. Everyone in the team should have a personalised version of the six month plan showing what they and their team are aiming to achieve during this period.

Example: The web designer will have a list of pages to be set up on the website to promote the new ad, a competition, the company podcast, or the company magazine.

The 3 month plan

This is the workhorse plan. Each day (or hour on some days) should have a detailed ‘to do’ list. Actions taken on a daily basis will build up the momentum to turn the 12 month plan into a success story.

Example: The person in charge of social media will have dates for when to tweet, update Facebook and LinkedIn to tell everyone about the new ad (competition, podcast, etc) and where they can see it.

Using Social Media to enhance content

When it comes to social media, you have to evaluate where your company will make the most impact. Think of social media almost like weaving. Use your Twitter account to link to your latest blog post, the video you uploaded to YouTube, the competition you have on Pinterest or Facebook. Then have a link from YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn back to pages specifically set up for the competition, blog, video, on your website.

The essentials of content marketing for a Dubai company is no different from that of a New York company. But it isn’t a simple thing to achieve. It is a full time job. But done properly, it will build a buzz around your products and your company on the internet.



Viral marketing is a difficult concept for your Dubai marketing team to turn into reality. What will tickle the imagination of the general public? How do people then feel compelled to share it with their friends? But most importantly, how can you market your products and services this way?

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Firstly, don’t confuse a really popular video on YouTube with viral marketing. A funny cat video may well get viewed over a million times in 24 hours, but it’s not selling anything other than funny cats and, of course, YouTube. The viral nature of videos sells YouTube far better than an ad campaign could have done. Kia’s grooving hamsters were a late entry into the viral charts in August with their latest dance ( see video above.)

This shows the flipside of viral marketing. Very often people mistake the message as the marketing. Yet, as Marshal McCluhan said in his seminal work ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’, it is the medium that is the message.

By using a new type of medium (TV, YouTube, Facebook), your message can travel in new and distinct ways through the population. Find a new medium that people like using, or receiving information through, and you can start creating your sales message.

Creative quarters in every major city in the world are constantly on the look out for new ways of spreading their message. QR Codes and Augmented Reality are the latest trends in this ever-expanding search for the new. However, there are still ways of making the grade virally, without the major spend in new territory.


Free is always going to generate interest. And it’s not just the current climate that makes free so easy to disseminate. Free has always held people’s attention. A staple of beauty magazines was the free sample. A little sachet of cream that promised clearer, tighter, dazzling, skin.

In the age of the internet it is information that holds value. Giving away a free guide, and pdf, free Kindle book, is a great way to spread an idea. Very often that idea is that your company knows what it’s talking about. It’s an excellent way to increase brand awareness and goes some way to give a base to growing brand loyalty. Just make sure your freebie is worth the time of the person reading it. This is a one shot deal. Mess it up and you end with a poor reputation, or no reputation at all.


We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Clicked the share button on Facebook because we thought it was funny? It is known that an item shared on Facebook is four times more likely to lead to a sale. Get it right and your video, image or daily deal will attract the right attention.

On YouTube careers have been launched and millions made. It is still a great way to give your product or service some exposure. But, again think before your post because if you are putting out lame, boring, thinly populated material, you’ll be doing more harm than good.


Let’s suppose that you run a wool shop. You’ve created a free document that shows novices how to knit a jumper. And the video that accompanies it is proving very popular. So what now? Are more people coming to your online wool shop and buying from you? Not as many as you’d have liked? Have you provided them with a space to talk to you?

Social media came out of nowhere and quickly gained a unique place in the hearts of everyone with an internet connection. From Dubai to Brisbane, Mumbai to London, keeping in touch and spreading the word has never been so easy.

This is why you should be cautious, especially if you are using social media for business. There are a lot of traps and pitfalls, either where you annoy people or you open yourself, and your company, up to ridicule.

When any company starts out using social media the above are never part of their objectives, but it’s an easy place to find yourself. So here are some mistakes you should avoid:

Don’t be Rude!

Being rude is one of the worst things you can do in any circumstance, particularly to a customer. However, the speed of the net can mean an ill-chosen reply on Twitter or Facebook can be re-tweeted or shared faster than you can go and make a cup of coffee. In fact, by the time you’ve returned from making coffee, you could well see your business name in tatters.

The best way of dealing with customers online who make you angry is to pause before typing. Never tweet or reply to a message on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or a forum, if you are angry. Sit back and take a minute.

For most companies, the only way to deal with problems online is to have a strong policy in place before you even start interacting with your customers, or potential customers. A standard response gives you breathing space, and if there is a genuine complaint, tell them you are looking into it, and keep them informed of any progress that is being made.

Remember You’re a Business


While most of us love elephants,Go Daddy's CEO Bob Parsons famously tweeted about killing one.Backlash ? Oh yes...!

This is particularly relevant if you are working for yourself, or there are only a few of you in your business. The lines between your personal and your business opinions can blur easily. It’s far better to have a personal account and a business account. This way you have a clear idea of which persona you are projecting at any particular time. And also, by doing this, there is little chance you’ll be boring your customers with your opinion of the half time score.

Replying to Customers

Nobody likes to be left standing around in a shop when they need a question answering. And the same is true online. People want their questions answered fairly quickly. If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ account the response time is going to be slightly longer. People are used to waiting a little while in these mediums. However, on Twitter, people are a little more impatient, so a speedy response will be appreciated.

Constant Promotion is a Turn Off

Ever wondered why big companies spend so much money on fun apps, giving away free goods, sponsoring festivals and sports events? It’s the fun factor. Without a huge dollop of fun thrown in now and again, promotion is just sell, sell, sell. And few people respond positively to the constant big sell.

And the same is true online. Don’t just sell yourself all day. Keep your customers and clients informed with industry opinions, fun facts, giveaways and competitions. Mix up your social media presence; it’ll be more fun for you and more interesting for your customers.