Coca Cola Advertising Through The Years

Coca Cola First Christmas Ad

Coca Cola is sold in more than 200 countries around the world with variations including Diet Coke, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Cherry Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Vanilla Coke, and Coke with Lime. It only took Coca-Cola 50 years to reach the American icon status that it still is today.

Early Coca Cola advertising inhabited both print and sponsorships. The Coca Cola Company was the first-ever sponsor of the Olympics during the 1928 Amsterdam games, and continues to sponsor the event.

While Coca Cola has been around since 1886, it did not fully take off until the inception of its television advertisements in 1950. The very first Coca-Cola television ad was aired on Thanksgiving Day during a show featuring the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppet Charlie McCarthy.

In 1956 the Coca-Cola advertising account changed hands. Formally owned by the D’Arcy group, Coca-Cola was purchased by McCann-Erickson, who was responsible for what is still considered one of Coca-Cola’s most influential ads of all time, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke

In 1971, Bill Backer, the Creative Director on the Coca-Cola account, was on a business trip to London to meet two other writers to work on the next Coca-Cola radio jingle. Due to nasty weather, the plane was delayed in Ireland. Backer’s fellow passengers were in rare form during the evening and early morning, until miraculously they started ordering bottles of Coke while waiting for the flight the next afternoon. The passengers who had frightened Backer the most were now bonding together, sharing stories, and drinking Cokes.

Backer later said, “In that moment…[I] began to see a bottle of Coca Cola as more than a drink…[I] began to see the familiar words, ‘Let’s have a Coke,’ as actually a subtle way of saying, ‘Let’s keep each other company for a little while.’ And [I] knew they were being said all over the world as [I] sat there in Ireland. So that was the basic idea: to see Coke not only as it was originally designed to be—a liquid refresher—but as a tiny bit of commonality between peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes.” http://leweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colaadv.html

Backer and the two other writers, Billy Davis and Roger Cook, arranged the following radio jingle stemming from Backer’s experience:

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.
[Repeat the last two lines, and in the background:]
It’s the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today.

The jingle bombed on the radio. It was agreed upon that the jingle needed a visual dimension, leading the Coca-Cola Company to approve more than $250,000 for filming – one of the largest budgets ever spent on a television commercial during the time.

Filming proved difficult. England turned out to be a poor choice of location after weeks of gloomy weather never let up, causing the shoot to be moved to Rome. The first day of filming the footage was shot wrong, blowing a large chunk of the budget. However, the third time is always a charm.

When “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was released in the U.S. in July of 1971 there was a dramatic response by the American public. The demand for the jingle became so great that radio stations were getting requests for it constantly – very ironic since it flopped on the radio when it was originally released.

To this day, advertising surveys continue to list this advertisement as one of the best written commercials of all time. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q8H5263jCGg

Political Times and Mean Joe Greene

During the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon, the U.S. was in a state of uncertainty, which led Coca-Cola to create new advertising that would remind Americans of the positive values in the country by telling them to “Look Up.”

These commercials showed scenes from typical American life, from sports players to farmers. Each commercial sported and announcer who explained, “no matter what you’re doing or where you are, look up for the real things.”

Another Coke advertisement that rivals the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” ad is that of Mean Joe Greene. With three years of research on the campaign, Coke released a new slogan “Coke Adds Life to….” In 1979 Mean Joe Greene, a lineman from the Pittsburgh Steelers, starred alongside a twelve-year-old boy, Tommy Okon.

The advertisement was filmed over three days at a football stadium in New Rochelle, New York. In the last day alone Greene consumed eighteen 16-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola, which goes to show how many retakes were needed to create the final product.

The advertisement went on to win a CLIO award that year, and in 1981 was made into a movie, which recreated the ad and then elaborated on the after-story.

Have a Coke and a Smile and Coke Is It!

In 1979 Coca-Cola released a new campaign featuring television commercials with Bob Hope and Bill Cosby encouraging the public to watch for the new advertising that Coke was going to be releasing. It is interesting that Coca-Cola felt the need to advertise for their own advertisements.

In 1982 the “Coke Is It!” campaign was released, which emphasized the qualities of the soft drink: its taste and capacity to refresh. Coca-Cola was attempting to appeal to the forthright attitudes of Americans during the 80’s.

New Coke

On April 23, 1985 Coca-Cola made a wrong move. The company did not realize how big an impact their product had made on Americans over the years, and attempted to reinvent the soft drink to appeal to a younger demographic interested in leading-edge products, and released the New Coke. Even though New Coke tested better in taste tests than either Coke or Pepsi, the public revolted and insisted on the return of the classic soda. This created more work for Coca-Cola who now had to develop advertising campaigns for both the New Coke as well as the old Coca-Cola Classic. While New Coke was branded as more youthful in its advertising, Coca-Cola Classic advertisements celebrated steady American spirit.

Can’t Beat the Feeling

This campaign was the first campaign Coca-Cola launched outside of North America in six years. The campaign worked to show that Coca-Cola was a natural part of people’s lives and was launched in almost 100 countries.

Northern Lights

The Coca-Cola polar bear was created in 1993 in an animated television ad titled “Northern Lights.”

Coca-Cola. Enjoy.

The “Coca-Cola. Enjoy.” Campaign was launched around the world and worked to assure people that Coke adds a little magic to each special moment in their lives.

Today’s Interactive Online Advertising

Coca-Cola is putting a lot of emphasis on advertising in a virtual world at there.com. Within there.com is an island named CCMetro, where users can create an avatar that shops and dances at Coca-Cola diner, watches short films at the movie theatre and rides on a hoverboard. By entering the codes on Coke bottle caps, visitors to the site can earn points to buy clothing and accessories for their avatars.

Coke also advertises in their own virtual world, Coke Studios, at myCoke.com. The site gets 112,000 visitors a month, with an average hold time of 16 minutes.

The Coca-Cola Company, like many other companies, is learning that the way to advertise to younger generations is through mediums that do not feel like advertising. Internet is becoming a powerful tool to advertise on in an entertaining and engaging way in order to reach generation X and Y consumers who are growing more immune to advertising.

http://leweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colaadv.html

‘It’s the Real Thing.’ – proved to be one of the most popular ads ever created

The song ‘I’d like to Buy The World a Coke’ had its origins on January 18, 1971. Bill Backer, the creative director on the Coca-Cola account for McCann-Erickson, was traveling to London to join two other songwriters, Billy Davis and Roger Cook, to write and arrange several radio commercials for the Coca-Cola Company that would be recorded by the popular singing group the New Seekers. As the plane approached Great Britain, heavy fog at London’s Heathrow Airport forced it to land instead at Shannon Aiport, Ireland. The irate passengers were obliged to share rooms at the one hotel available in Shannon or to sleep at the airport. Tensions and tempers ran high. The next morning as the passengers gathered in the airport coffee shop awaiting clearsance to fly, Backer noticed that several who had been among the most irate were now laughing and sharing stories over bottles of Coke.
“In that moment…[I] began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink…[I] began to see the familiar words, ‘Let’s have a Coke,’ as…actually a subtle way of saying, ‘Let’s keep each other company for a little while.’ And [I] knew they were being said all over the world as [I] sat there in Ireland. So that was the basic idea: to see Coke not as it was originally designed to be—a liquid refresher—but as a tiny bit of commonality between peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes.”

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.
[Repeat the last two lines, and in the background:]
It’s the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today.

Several weeks later on February 12, 1971, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was shipped to radio stations throughout the United States. It promptly flopped.

Needed a visual dimension…the company eventually approved more than $250,000 for filming, at the time one of the largest budgets ever devoted to a television commercial.

Tried to shoot in England, but kept raining. They shot in Rome but the film was shot wrong. Had to film a third time.

The television ad “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was released first in Europe, where it garnered only a tepid response. It was then released in the U.S. in July, 1971, and the response was immediate and dramatic. By November of that year, Coca-Cola and its bottlers had received more than a hundred thousand letters about the ad. At that time the demand for the song was so great that many people were calling radio stations and asking them to play the commercial. Clearly, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” had struck a chord deeper than the normal response to the advertisement of a commercial product.


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~ by americanapersona on April 18, 2008.

One Response to “Coca Cola Advertising Through The Years”

  1. Why is the advertising boards at the Euro 2008 championships, green, instead of it’s normal red? From Hugh Paul in REP of IRELAND

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