Friday, November 26, 2010

Always Coca-Cola 1993

One of my favorite Coca-Cola commercials is an “Always Coca-Cola” ad from 1993. It has the rapidly changing images behind the traditional Coke red disk logo (see video, above). The appeal of the commercial is not so much from the imagery, but rather the catchy jingle that accompanies it. I like it so much I actually have the 3 minute version of the song on my music player and listen to it often. It’s a song that can always makes you happy.

The ad came about when Coke was looking to improve its advertising in the early 90s. The work of their traditional ad agency had gotten bland and boring. To turn it around, the company made the bold move of handing responsibility for the ads of its flagship brands of Coke and Classic Coke not to a different ad agency, but rather to a Hollywood talent agency. The agency was Creative Artists Agency (CAA), headed by Michael Ovitz.

What CAA did was unconventionally to pitch to Coke the creation of a large number of commercials that would be targeted to specific market segments, and be tailored to fit whatever would work best for those groups. This was different from the standard cohesive look and theme for Coca-Cola ad campaigns. The only consistencies between the ads would be the use of the “Always Coca-Cola” slogan, the contoured Coke bottle, and the red disc logo (and perhaps some sense of “always”).

CAA went on to make over two dozen, very distinct commercials for the start of the campaign in February, 1993. That was a lot considering in 1992 there had been only seven commercials used in the whole year.

The commercials used the familiar contour bottle and red disc logo because Coca-Cola didn’t want to alienate their existing loyal customers. Nevertheless, at the same time, the company wanted to attract and gain the loyalty of new drinkers, specifcally, young people. Coke and CAA figured that to sell to Gen X, who were cynical about ads (having been immersed with TV ads their entire lives), the focus needed to be on entertaining and grabbing attention. So for this early MTV generation, whose attention span was said to be reduced because of the quick cuts in music videos, an ad with a flashing background should work well with them. In fact this ad above did run on MTV for those attention deficient consumers.

The jingle in the song was written by the song writing/producing team of Terry Coffey and Jon Nettlesbey. They had signed on with CAA in the early 90’s with the intention of working on film scores, but for the new Coke campaign, CAA asked them if they could write a commercial jingle.

In an interview with SongwriterUniverse, Coffey and Nettlesbey explained how Coffey recorded the upbeat track and Nettlesbey wrote the lyrics. Nettlesbey said he wrote verses about positive things that were always around, just like Coca-Cola. For the chorus, it was circumstance that produced the result. The pair had performed a demo of the song for the Coke execs before the words of the chorus had been written, so they just sang “Do do do do do - Always Coca-Cola.” When the Coke executives heard the demo, they liked the “Do do do do do” so much that it was left just as it was.

Joey Diggs is the singer who sang the jingle for commercial. Here is his 3 minute version of the song: The song was also recorded in a dance version by Un Disco Latina: I have the dance version on LP. I’m told that Coke workers in Atlanta would dance to this tune at the time in the nightclubs of the city.

While this is my favorite of the set of 1993 CAA Coke commercials, it's definitely didn't end up as the favorite of the general public. That distinction went to the stars of Coke's "Northern Lights" commercial, the animated polar bears.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Advance Australia Fair

Of course The Star Spangled Banner is my favorite national anthem, but my second favorite is Australia's Advance Australia Fair. The melody is stirring and joyful and the lyrics are meaningful. It makes me wish my home were also girt by sea.

It has only been the official anthem since 1984, although the song dates back to 1878. It originally had 4 verses, which were whittled down to just two in its official form. Understandably, several references were removed about Australia just being an extension of England, along with Australia's mixed feelings about Britannia: "With all her faults we love her still."

My favorite performance of the song is the one at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics (see video). I love the harmony of Human Nature and the strength of Julie Anthony's voice.