Coca-Cola ‘Hilltop’ Commercial (I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing)

According to the ad’s creator, the Hilltop commercial portrayed Coca-Cola as “a little social catalyst that can bring people together, talk things over, and sometimes communications get better if you’re just sitting over a bottle of Coke and looking people in the eye.”

Script

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 (sing with me) in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.  That’s the real thing.

I’d like to teach the world to sing (what the world wants today) in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

It’s the real thing. Coke is what the world wants today. Coca-Cola is the real thing. Coke is what the world wants today. Coca-Cola is the real thing.

[On a hilltop in Italy, we assembled young people from all over the world to bring you this message from Coca-Cola Bottlers all over the world. It’s the real thing – Coke.]

Year
1971
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Bill Backer began crafting Hilltop’s lyrics at an airport cafe, while watching delayed passengers as they laughed and shared their misfortune between gulps of Coca-Cola straight from the bottle.

Backer later wrote: “In that moment, (I) saw a bottle of Coke in a whole new light… (I) began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink that refreshed a hundred million people a day in almost every corner of the globe. So (I) began to see the familiar words, ‘Let’s have a Coke,’ as more than an invitation to pause for refreshment. They were actually a subtle way of saying, ‘Let’s keep each other company for a little while.’  …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 all peoples…”

According to Bill Backer, the audience understood that Coca-Cola “could be a little social catalyst that can bring people together, talk things over, and sometimes communications get better if you’re just sitting over a bottle of Coke and looking people in the eye.”

Art Director Harvey Gabor is credited with filming ‘Hilltop’ as ‘The First United Chorus of the World’, transforming Backer’s song into a joyous celebration of unity. According to ProjectBrief: “At a time when conflict was dominating headlines, ‘Hilltop’ quickly became more than an ad — it became a rallying message of tolerance and hope.”

Roger Greenaway, one of the musicians who helped write ‘Hilltop’, said he thinks it’s popularity came from a feeling of hope during a dark period in the country’s history: “I think it was the flower power era, and most of America was tiring of the Vietnam War. The lyrics, although not overtly anti-war, delivered a message of peace and camaraderie.”

Christmas Version

During the mid-1970s, a new version of the ad was re-worked with a Christmas theme and re-aired each holiday season for several years.

It’s Beautiful

Fast forward to 2014: The message of ‘Hilltop’ evolves into “It’s Beautiful” — which shows a culturally diverse America enjoying Coca-Cola.

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