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About the Collection

Fifty Years of Coca-Cola Television Advertisements: Highlights from the Motion Picture Archives at the Library of Congress presents a variety of television advertisements, never-broadcast outtakes, and experimental footage reflecting the historical development of television advertising for a major commercial product. The online collection includes five excerpts from stop-motion advertising developed for Coca-Cola between 1954 and 1956 by the D'Arcy agency and makes public for the first time eighteen excerpts from the Experimental TV Color Project of 1964, which determined the best lighting for the cans, bottles, and performers in television advertisements. Featured advertisements include the 1971 "Hilltop" commercial with an international group of young people on an Italian hilltop singing "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke"; the first "Polar Bear" commercial from 1993; the "Snowflake" commercial from 1999; and "First Experience," an international commercial filmed in Morocco in 1999.

These materials have been selected for online presentation from a much larger archive of material given to the Library of Congress by The Coca-Cola Company beginning in 2000: a global collection of the company's television advertising spanning the preceding fifty years. The first television ad for Coca-Cola aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1950, on a CBS television special featuring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Between 1950 and 2000, The Coca-Cola Company used the medium of television to advertise its products in nearly two hundred countries. And though that first commercial has been lost, the collection provides a comprehensive look at the development of the company's television advertising both in the United States (from 1951 to 2000) and around the world (from about 1960 to 2000). In all, when complete, the collection's holdings will exceed twenty thousand individual commercials as well as all the film elements that were used to create each commercial. The Coca-Cola Company will convey most of these to the Library by 2005, with subsequent additions made on a regular basis to keep the collection current. One of the special features of this collection is that the film elements are cataloged and transferred to digital formats for preservation purposes before being given to the Library.

One of the collection's highlights is a compilation of outtakes from the popular "Hillside" commercial of 1971. Consistently ranked as one of the best remembered commercials of all time, this spot features children from many nationalities singing the song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." The outtakes from this commercial show actors and actresses who did not appear in the final version as well as scenes that were never used. This online sampling of the Coca-Cola advertising archive enables the Library of Congress to present these materials to the public for the first time.

Coca-Cola Television Advertising Home Page