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Stealth QR codes reveal 'secret menu' of restaurant food's hidden human costs

Every year, more than 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers arrive in Canada from Mexico, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. On farms, they often endure exploitation, unsafe working conditions, substandard housing and lack of medical coverage. Recently, the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change partnered with creative agency Sid Lee to raise awareness about their plight.

In various popular restaurants, bars and other eateries in Toronto and Ottawa, the campaign covertly stuck QR code stickers to tables. Disguised as the codes that have become a familiar way to access restaurant menus, these QR codes took diners to The Secret Menu. Menu items like Bitter Strawberry Tart, Pesti-Side Fruit Salad and To-Die-For Sweet Potato Fries highlight the issues migrant workers face, from working 18-hour days picking strawberries to being exposed to dangerous pesticides without proper protective gear.

The guerilla campaign called on diners to sign a petition demanding rights for migrant workers.

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By hijacking restaurant QR codes, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and Sid Lee were able to get their message across to the right audience in the most relevant context, confronting diners with the hidden cost of the meals they're ordering.

In a hyperconnected world, the truth will come out sooner or later. Since consumers increasingly select brands that reflect their social and environmental values, forward-thinking brands take responsibility for their supply chains rather than face the wrath of radical transparency. The choice is yours ;-)