Songvertising – 32 best commercials with singing people

1 – YEO VALLEY ORGANIC – Boyband

In a follow-up to last year’s rapping farmers ad, Yeo Valley launched a tv spot during the first ad break of The X Factor live show. The one-off, two-minute music video features a farming-inspired boy band called The Churned, singing a ballad entitled Forever. The ad was shot on location in Blagdon, in the heart of rural Somerset. The launch tied in with a Facebook karaoke competition, where users could sing along to the Yeo Valley track. The winner appeared in a 30-second version of the ad, which ran during the X Factor final on 11 December.

Advertising Agency: BBH London
Year: 2012
Shortlist

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2 – CARLTON DRAUGHT – Big Ad

An epic send-up of big budget ads, featuring a cast of thousands. Song lyrics: “It’s a big ad / very big ad/ it’s a big ad we’re in./ It’s a big ad/ my God it’s big/ can’t believe how big it is/ it’s a big ad for Carlton Draught / It’s just so freaking huge! / It’s a big ad/ expensive ad! / This ad better sell some bloooooody beer!!!

Advertising Agency: George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne
Year: 2006
Gold Lion

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3 – PUMA – Hardchorus

We open on a small group of hardcore soccer fans, also known as hooligans, standing in a classic British pub. Suddenly, one of them starts singing the first words of “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden. Another hooligan joins in, and as the camera pulls out, we see that the whole pub is packed with hooligans. They all sing together with the power of an entire stadium of fans during a soccer game, turning the cheesy love song into something big, beautiful and romantic. After the last chorus, a super appears: “It’s match day. It’s Valentine’s Day. Let your better half know how you feel. Dedicate and send this song at pumahardchorus.com”. Followed by Puma’s “Love = football” next to the Puma logo.

Advertising Agency: Droga5
Year: 2010
Gold Lion for the Campaign

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4 – NORTE BEER – It’s Good to Have Friends

Beer means friendship, and this campaings presents in funny way the different kind of friends we all have.

Advertising Agency: Del Campo/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires
Year: 2009
Silver Lion for the Campaign

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5 – T-MOBILE – Welcome Back

On October 27th 2010, thousands of unsuspecting passengers arriving at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 were given a welcome home to remember. People were greeted by a 300 strong choir and vocal orchestra singing a medley of songs, completely a cappella, to welcome them back into the country.

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Satchi,  London
Year: 2011
Silver Lion

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6 – COCA-COLA – Hilltop

Advertising Agency: McCann Erikson
Year: 1971

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7 – HEINEKEN – Singer

A blues singer can’t sing the blues – his life is too contented. A sip of lager soon changes that. Heineken refreshes his blueness.

Advertising Agency: Lowe Haward- Spink,  UK
Year: 1992
Gold Lion

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8 – HONDA – Impossible Dream

A man travels on an incredible journey using some of Honda’s landmark products whilst miming to the Andy Williams song ‘The Impossible Dream’. His journey comes to an abrupt end when he leaps off a giant waterfall in a Honda Powerboat into the mist below. Surely, this is the end of his dream? However as Andy Williams reaches the crescendo of the song, our hero returns in a Honda Hot Air Balloon to finish off the song in style. Garrison Keillor – the voice of Honda – sums it all up with ‘I couldn’t have put it better myself’.

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy,  London
Year: 2006
Gold Lion

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9 – COCA-COLA – Choir

Here’s Coca-Cola celebrating along with Santo its 125th year, and once again, we are guilty of naivety. We believe that, even today, the world is not far from the world that we dream of. In fact we are so naïve about thinking this way, that we decided to carry out an investigation to evaluate just how justified our reasons to believe in a better world were. We are proud to present to you “Choir”, created by Santo for Coca-Cola Latin America and their new communications platform: “REASONS TO BELIEVE IN A BETTER WORLD”.

Advertising Agency: Santo, Buenos Aires
Year: 2011
Silver Lion

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10 – T-MOBILE – Singalong

When T-Mobile invited the British public to be part of their next event, people turned up to Trafalgar Square, not knowing what they were letting themselves in for. Thousands of microphones were handed out as it was revealed they’d all be singing karaoke together. After a number of songs, and with a surprise guest appearance from Pink, the event culminated with everyone singing the timeless classic, ‘Hey Jude’

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Satchi,  London
Year: 2010
Shortlist

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 11 – NIKE FREE RUN – I Would Run to You

Love makes people do crazy things. Like run across the country. See how strong running reunites a long distance couple.

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
Year: 2012
Bronze Lion

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 12 – NIKE – Pretty

As Maria Sharapova marches to her tennis match, she passes people who sing I Feel Pretty. She slams a ball cross to court, putting an end to the singing.

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
Year: 2007
Gold Lion

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13 – BASF – Dear John

The ad, set in army camp, features a soldier receiving a letter which goes to the tune of “Dear John”, the country song written by Lewis Talley, Fuzzy Owen and Billy Barton and made popular by Jean Shepard during the Korean war. As the song finishes the sergeant adapts the classic line from Humphrey Bogart, “Play it again John”.

Advertising Agency: Colenso BBDO, NZ
Year: 1982
Gold Lion

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14 – REXONA – Sensitive Armpits

A tough lumberjack is chopping down a tree. As he rearranges his cap, we notice at the same time he does that his underarm begins to song a sweet song. The corny melody is really annoying him. At this point, we see different cliché images of rough and tough men all undergoing the same situation. Finally, one of them applies the New Rexona Men Sensitive and succeeds in shutting up the underarm voice. A male voice in off says: New Rexona Men Sensitive. Even the most insensitive guy can have sensitive underarms.

Advertising Agency: Ponce Buenos Aires
Year: 2011
Silver Lion

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 15 – STARBUCKS – Glen

Glen jumpstarts his day by drinking a Starbucks DoubleShot. As he opens the can, Survivor appears in his apartment. They follow Glen through his full morning routine, singing a personalized version of “Eye of the Tiger.”

Advertising Agency: Fallon, New York
Year: 2004
Shortlist

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16 – GOOGLE – Demo Slam: Realtime Karaoke

Google is more than just a search bar. However, most of us don’t use, let alone, are aware of its many features. We needed to find a way to share all this free technology with the world. To educate everyone about all of Google’s innovations; we decided to change the way people learnt about it. We got precisely the people who didn’t use this free tech, to explain to the others why they should. Because, only they would be able to explain it in a way that would be fun to watch, and understood by all. By bringing in just a little bit of courage, creativity and fun; each of them pushed the role of technology in our lives and inspired the rest to use it in ways never imagined before.
Transforming something few were aware of to something the whole world cared about; we were able to re-define the role of technology in everyone’s life. From celebrities, scientists, soccer moms, teens to even sports personalities; everyone came forward to find new ways in which technology could make their world a little better.

Advertising Agency: Johannes Leonardo, NY
Year: 2011
Gold Lion for the Campaign

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17 – DISCOVERY CHANNEL – I Love the World

We developed a new brand idea for Discovery Channel: Discovery is the
World’s Biggest Fan of the World. We wanted to celebrate all that is epic, beautiful, inspiring, fun and just plain crazy in the world. Fellow fans—from spacewalking Astronauts to Alaskan fishermen to Zulu warriors to Stephen Hawking to Discovery hosts like Mike Rowe and Bear Grylls—sing along to an old campfire song re-written to express how each of them loves the world. In other words, to tell people why Discovery Channel thinks “The World is Just Awesome.”

Advertising Agency: 72ndSunny, USA
Year: 2008
Shortlist

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18 – MATCH.COM – Piano

This is a film for the online dating service, Match.com, which features a couple finding each other as they examine musical instruments. He strums a guitar and she plays a keyboard. Together they make beautiful music, and it’s clearly the start of something special.

Advertising Agency: Mother, London
Year: 2010
Gold Lion

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 19 – WILKINSON – Mow the Lawn

Girls in a front yard sing about mowing the lawn in order to promote Wilkinson/Schick Quattro razors for women.

Advertising Agency: JWT, New York
Year: 2009

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20 – AMERICAN LEGACY FOUNDATION/TRUTH – Singing Cowboy

We saddled up a horse, found a modern day cowboy that happened to have a hole in his neck due to a tobacco-related laryngectomy, and sent him to Manhattan to sing.

Advertising Agency: Arnold/Crispin Porter + Bogusky, USA
Year: 2007
Bronze Lion

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21 – ARNET BROABAND – Numa Numa

The ad shows some of the funny stuff you can find on the Internet.

Advertising Agency: Santo, Buenos Aires
Year: 2007
Shortlist

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22 – EVIAN – Voices

A man in a lift, a jogger, a secretary by the photocopier, a man in his car, an elderly lady…in all these scenes from everyday life, we see people singing with their childish voices.

Advertising Agency: BETC Euro RSCG, Paris
Year: 2003
Shortlist

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 23 – NIKE WOMEN – Surgery

A group of women run away from a plastic surgery clinic dancing a choreography to a reggaetón tune.

Advertising Agency: Madre, Buenos Aires
Year: 2007
Bronze Lion

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 24 – DIESEL – Anthem

Sing-a -ong Diesel Island national anthem. Why is your country fucked up?

Advertising Agency: Santo, Buenos Aires
Year: 2011
Silver Lion for the Campaign

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 25 – PROCTER & GAMBLE – You’ll Never Walk Alone

This 60-second commercial shows a lifetime of moms by their children’s sides doing the daily, sometimes mundane, things that help their children grow up to be Olympians. All the while, they sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel. The ad builds from a child’s birth and culminates with the Olympics and a proud mom seeing all her hard work pay off. We then cut to a card that says, “Thank you, Mom,” followed by a series of product brand images that ends on the P&G logo with the voice-over, “P&G. Proud sponsor of Moms.”

Advertising Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland
Year: 2010
Bronze Lion for the Campaign

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26 – BURGER KING – Americas Favorite/More Mayo/More Cheese

Introducing the Whopperettes.

The Whopperettes return with a story about extra cheese.

The Whopperettes return with a story about mayo.

Advertising Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Year: 2006
Silver Lion for the Campaign

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 27 – CADBURY DAIRY MILK – Night Runner

Fallon and Cadbury keep Great Britain pumped for the Olympics with a new spot that re-creates “The Final Countdown” — but adds multiple voices singing from the towers and buildings while a runner makes his way, presumably, to the Olympic Gold. An accompanying interactive feature encourages Britons to upload videos of them singing similarly inspirational songs to help team GB to victory.

Advertising Agency: Fallon London
Year: 2012

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28 – LOTTO LOTTERY – Ballroom Blitz

A taxi driver refuses to let passengers into his cab. Instead, he walks over to the queue and starts to sing for them. The man who joins in is chosen as the lucky passenger.

Advertising Agency: New Deal DDB, Norway
Year: 2001
Bronze Lion

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29 – CADBURY DAIRY MILK – Simply the Best

Part of Cadbury’s “Keep Team GB Pumped” campaign for London 2012 Olympics, swimmer Rebecca Adlington is serenaded by royal guards, dinner ladies and butchers with Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.”

Advertising Agency: Hypernaked, London
Year: 2012

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30 – AMP ENERGY DRINK – Walk of no Shame

AMP wanted to introduce three new products with specific energy functions, designed to help our target, people who live their lives to the fullest. We also needed to increase brand awareness and embed ourselves into their daily life. We wanted to be the most relevant, unlike our hyper-masculine energy competitors. “Walk of No Shame” was an ode to the infamous walk that young people take “the night after” going out. With the look and sound of a mini-musical, AMP showed how one can take a “walk of no shame” as it gets you back on your feet.

Advertising Agency: BBDO New York
Year: 2009
Shortlist

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31 – LABATT BLUE BEER – Big Song

A young man tries to make up to his girlfriend by singing her a song around a campfire – “Out of the Blue”, and it turns into a huge sing-a-long.

Advertising Agency: Ammirati Puris, Canada
Year: 2001

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32 – PEPSI – Pepsi Generation

Advertising Agency: BBDO, USA
Year: 1984


Coca-Cola – I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke (the story of Hilltop)


In 1969, The Coca-Cola Company and its advertising agency, McCann-Erickson, ended their popular “Things Go Better With Coke” campaign, replacing it with a campaign that centered on the slogan “It’s the Real Thing.” Beginning with a hit song, the new campaign featured what proved to be one of the most popular ads ever created.

The story behind the song
The song “I’d Like to Buy The World a Coke” had its origins on January 18, 1971, in a fog. 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 Airport, 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 clearance to fly, Backer noticed that several who had been among the most irate were now laughing and sharing stories over bottles of Coke. As Backer himself recalled in his book The Care and Feeding of Ideas:

In that moment . . . began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink. . . . 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  knew they were being said all over the world as 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 all peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes.

Backer’s flight never did reach London. Heathrow Airport was still fogged in, so the passengers were redirected to Liverpool and bussed to London, arriving around midnight. At his hotel, Backer immediately met with Billy Davis and Roger Cook, finding that they had completed one song and were working on a second as they prepared to meet the New Seekers’ musical arranger the next day. Backer told them he thought they should work through the night on an idea he had had: “I could see and hear a song that treated the whole world as if it were a person—a person the singer would like to help and get to know. I’m not sure how the lyric should start, but I know the last line.” With that he pulled out the paper napkin on which he had scribbled the line, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”

The three members of the writing team that night each brought a different perspective to their task. Billy Davis, of McCann-Erickson, had toured as a member of the singing group the Four Tops and had written several songs for the powerful and popular Motown music production organization. Roger Cook, a native of Bristol, England, had teamed with Roger Greenaway to write several 1960s pop standards including “You’ve Got Your Troubles” and “Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress).” Bill Backer was from Charleston, South Carolina, and had written the jingle “Things Go Better with Coke” as well as the jingle for “The Real Thing” campaign.

Appropriately, then, each contributed something different to the song they wrote together that night. Davis provided the core idea for the opening line, that everyone needs a home. Backer gave it the same pattern as the line he’d written, so that it became “I’d like to build the world a home.” And perhaps because this was, after all, the late 1960s, the three decided that the home should be furnished “with love.” Cook might have drawn on British folksong imagery when he contributed the line “Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves,” which Backer and Davis at first thought too grand but eventually accepted for its poetic quality. Next, Backer penned a variation of the opening line: “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Coming full circle, the last line expressed the song’s original idea: “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”

The melody was based on a Roger Cook-Roger Greenaway song that Cook and Davis reworked to incorporate the melody used for the campaign slogan “It’s the Real Thing.” This allowed them to weave the updated slogan “It’s the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today” into the new song’s harmonizing voice parts. This was the result:

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.

It’s the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today.

The next day, Backer, Cook, and Davis presented the lyrics and melody they had created during their all-night brainstorming session to David Mackay, the arranger for the New Seekers, with instructions to make his arrangement warm and appealing but not too cute. It was immediately decided that the ad should begin with New Seekers vocalist Eve Graham in order to have a woman initiate the message. And after trying out several versions in which the New Seekers attempted to sing the song as a typical advertising jingle, Backer and Davis convinced them to relax and use their own folk/pop style instead. 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. The Coca-Cola bottlers hated the ad and most refused to buy airtime for it. The few times the ad was played, the public paid no attention. Bill Backer’s idea that Coke connected people appeared to be dead.

Backer persuaded McCann to convince Coca-Cola executives that the ad was still viable but needed a visual dimension. His approach succeeded: the company eventually approved more than $250,000 for filming, at the time one of the largest budgets ever devoted to a television commercial. Backer then spent weeks canvassing the McCann creative staff for ideas, until Harvey Gabor, a young art director, proposed that the song be treated for television as a “First United Chorus of the World.” He envisioned a group of young people from all nations, in clothing representing their nationalities, singing the song on a green hillside. Gabor’s idea prevailed, and McCann prepared to shoot the commercial.

Producing the ad, however, proved to be one of the most challenging projects in the agency’s history. What kept the project alive was belief in the strength of the ad’s basic message, that Coca-Cola is a bond connecting people to one another.

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The Shooting
Because London had been the song’s starting point, the ad’s creators decided that the “green hill” of its setting should be the storied cliffs of Dover on England’s southern coast. By March, 1971, a McCann production crew including Billy Davis, Harvey Gabor, and agency producer Phil Messina traveled with photographer/director Haskell Wexler to England to begin work. The chorus, they decided, would consist of several thousand British school children and would feature sixty-five principals who would be seen at close range. The children were cast and rehearsed “lip synching” moving their lips silently as though they were singing—to the New Seekers rendition of the song. Filming was set to begin on April 8, but three days of continuous rain, with more forecast, forced postponements. The McCann staff decided to move the shoot to Rome, which promised a more favorable climate.

In Italy, the producers had to cast a new group of children by searching schools and youth hostels. One English singer, the “head girl,” was brought to Italy to reprise her role. Production was to begin at 7:30 on the appointed morning with close-up shots of the sixty-five new principal singers in the flattering morning light. Unfortunately, it rained that morning for the first time in weeks. When the rain cleared in the afternoon, the leads were filmed singing the song while the “extra” children waited. Finally, late in the day, some twelve hundred children were spaced out on the top of the hill for the climactic shot from a helicopter. With light fading after only a few takes, the children broke ranks and began running down the hill to get more Coke from the truck carrying the props.

When the film was developed there were some unpleasant surprises. The zoom lens used for the close shots was faulty: every frame was out of focus. Additionally, the light levels on the helicopter shots were too low. The lead female singer then informed the crew that she had just been married and was going on her honeymoon and would be unavailable for any additional filming. McCann had now used its entire budget waiting for the rain to end in England and generating unusable footage in Rome.

To keep the ad alive, the McCann production crew went back to the drawing board. They cut the number of children in the youth chorus from twelve hundred to five hundred and began the search for a new female lead. They filled the ranks of the chorus by contacting the foreign embassies in Rome and drawing from their residents. As principals, they selected some forty young people between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. And when they spotted Linda Neary, a British governess living in Rome, walking down the street pushing a baby carriage, they decided she looked perfect for the part of the female lead. Two days before shooting was scheduled to begin, Neary agreed to take the part and the cast was set.

A new local film company, Roma Films, was contracted to film the commercial. Billy Davis rehearsed the young people lip synching to the New Seekers’ recording, and filming began on a different hillside the following day. Roma Films changed the strategy that had been used for the earlier shooting, filming the larger group shots first as Davis conducted the chorus. The aerial views showing the entire group from the vantage point of a helicopter were filmed next, while the tight close-ups were actually filmed at a racetrack near Rome.

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The Commercial
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, and Billy Davis asked Bill Backer to rewrite the lyrics without the references to Coke.

Because the New Seekers were initially unavailable to record the new version, a group calling itself the Hillside Singers recorded it with a country-and-western flavor and released it as a single. When the New Seekers began an American tour several weeks latter, they re-recorded the new lyrics and released a second single. Both version sold well in fact, at one point, the New Seekers version was listed among the top ten songs on the American pop music charts while the Hillside Singers version was number thirteen. Such successes were repeated around the world as the ad’s popularity expanded. Recordings of the song and versions of the sheet music appeared in a variety of languages to fill an ever-increasing demand.

“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” has had a lasting connection with the viewing public. Advertising surveys consistently identify it as one of the best commercials of all time, and the sheet music continues to sell more than thirty years after the song was written. Such is the power of television advertising that through the enduring popularity of this ad, at least, Coke has borne out something of Backer’s ambitious claims for it, becoming a common connection among people.

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Behind the scenes

– Hilltop” is the first historical ad ever to be restored in High Definition (HD). It can still be viewed by the public as it was donated to the Library of Congress in Washington DC in 2000.

– The international cast included actors from more than 20 countries.

– The opening scene was shot at a horse racetrack outside of Rome forcing unusual camera angles during the opening scene as the director tried to avoid having telephone wires in the background of the shots; the rest of the commercial was shot on the hilltop.

– Within 10 days of the U.S. release of “Hilltop,” The Coca-Cola Company received 10,000 letters from consumers thanking the Company for the message in the ad. Consumers also called television stations asking when the commercial was scheduled to air.

– The song “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was written in less than 24 hours.

– The cast did not actualy sing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” but rather lip-synced to a New Seekers recording

Interview with Bill Backer
Interview conducted with Bill Backer about his role in creating the famous Coca-Cola ad, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” Backer co-composed the ad with Billy Davis, Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook in January 1971. Backer was the creative director for McCann Erickson when the ad was made. The Coca-Cola Archives interviewed Backer in 2007.

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The Christmas Version
In the mid-1970s, another version of the commercial was filmed for the holiday season. This reworking featured the same song, but showed the group at night, with each person holding a lit white candle. In the final zoom-out crane shot, only the candle flames remain visible, forming a triangle reminiscent of a Christmas Tree; this impression is cemented by a Coke-bottle logo superimposed at the top of the “tree”, and the words “Happy Holidays from your Coca-Cola bottler”below. This version was reused for many years during the holiday season.

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The Hilltop Reunion
In 1990, a follow-up to this commercial, called “Hilltop Reunion”, aired during coverage of Super Bowl XXIV. It featured the original singers (now adults) and their children, and culminated in a medley of this song and the then-current “Can’t Beat the Real Thing” jingle.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup
In 2010, Coca-Cola once again used the song in a television commercial featuring the entire line of its sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. The commercial included the drivers singing the song while driving in a race. The following year, information on how many dollars it would take “to buy the world a Coke” was given in a commercial featuring the red silhouette of a Coke bottle and the melody of the song.

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Cover
British band Oasis were sued after their recording “Shakermaker” borrowed its melody and some lyrics directly; they were forced to change their composition. Oasis tribute band NoWaySis released a cover of  “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”, entering the British charts at No.27 in 1996.


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In 2007, Campaign magazine called it “one of the best-loved and most influential ads in TV history” It served as a milestone—the first instance of the recording industry’s involvement with advertising.Marketing analysts have noted Coca-Cola’s strategy of marrying the idea of happiness and universal love of the product illustrated by the song.

Advertising Agency: McCann-Erickson, USA
Creative Director: Bill Backer
Art Director: Harvey Gabor
Director: Roberto Malenotti
Agency Producer: Phil Messina
Music: Billy Davis, Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway, Bill Backer