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‘Unboxing’ Tech’s Links to Modern Slavery

  • Published on
    December 5, 2018
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    Supply Chain
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Technology touches our everyday lives, but often it comes at a serious human cost.

Earlier this year advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day partnered with Thomson Reuters Foundation and YouTuber Jacques Slade for an “unboxing” video. In it, Slade “Unboxes the Truth” about modern slavery and its links to the fashion industry.

Now the ad agency is focusing on electronics, turning to Unlockr founder David Cogen to go about unboxing a pair of earphones.

Adweek reports:

Details of the packaging and headphones reveals eye-opening facts and statistics about modern-day slavery. The back of the box lists $90, for example, as “the average cost of a slave today.”

Writing inside the box highlights that 40 million people around the world work for “little or no pay” and are “controlled by threats, debts and violence.”

As Cogen continues to unbox the “Slavemade” headphones, he reveals more and more uncomfortable realities about the relationship between modern-day slavery and such devices.

TBWA chose to highlight electronics for a reason. According to an insert in the box, some 80 percent of electronic companies don’t source the countries of origin for the materials they use—an oversight that turns a blind eye to the practice of modern-day slavery, since many of the materials are often illegally mined.

Some mines are known to be rife with dangerous child labor. As part of this campaign, TBWA even added a story that plays on the headphones from a former victim of modern slavery who watched his friend die in a mining accident.

Walt Connelly from TBWA\Chiat\Day explained that 40 million slaves exist currently, “more than any time in history.”

“All of us who worked on this project could not get over how astonishing that is,” he said.

Connelly added that the agency chose to coincide the video with the holiday shopping season so that “consumers will start asking themselves ‘What’s the human price?’ before they click and buy.”


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