August 01, 2005
The new Coke ad

Coca Cola is tinkering with another icon - its classic 1971 commercial featuring the jingle "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing".

Thirty-four years ago, a 60-second spot shot on an Italian hillside, with a cast of embassy workers in costume, lip-synching to a British pop band, became an advertising legend. It was known as "Hilltop," because of its location.

The song shot up the charts. Fans wrote hundreds of thousands of letters.

Even its creators were taken by surprise.

"Every age liked it," recalls Harvey Gabor, art director for 1971 commercial. "Grandmas sang it. People were singing it in the office. And kids liked it."

Everybody knew the song, whose lyrics were, in part, "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."


"I think we look at it with almost revere and religion," says Katie Bayne, senior vice president of Coca-Cola Brands, North America.

She's leading the charge to promote "Coke Zero," a new, no-calorie brand that she says she sips constantly.

The updated lyrics say in part, "I'd like to teach the world to chill, take time to stop and smile. I'd like to buy the world a Coke and chill with it awhile."

It's the first new version of "Hilltop." Shot on a Philadelphia rooftop, this one is dubbed "Chilltop."

Anyone else seen this ad? I've caught it maybe twice, which makes it way less ubiquitous than "Hilltop" was back in the day (of course, there were only so many channels it could run on back then, too). It reminds me pretty strongly of the original, which I suppose is a win for the advertisers, but then I haven't tried Coke Zero yet, so you make the call.

The "Hilltop" ad actually has a pretty interesting story behind it, which I didn't know until I did some Googling to find a story about the current ad. You can find the lyrics to the non-commercial single that was later released here if you need a longer earworm to hum along to.

Anyway. In this summer of sequels, remakes, and old-TV-inspired movies, rehashing a classic advertisement seems perfectly normal. I'm not sure I want to know what'll be next, though.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 01, 2005 to Bidness | TrackBack

It's just wrong. It's ruined one of the very first commercials I can recall vividly from when it first came out.

I'm just so sick of the lack of original ideas in the entertainment and advertising industries.

Posted by: Tim on August 1, 2005 3:51 PM

I've seen it once and heard it when I've been out of the room during commercials a couple times. I've all but stopped listening to current music, so it doesn't particularly float my boat. I'm pretty "eh, whatever" about it.

Posted by: Sue on August 1, 2005 4:00 PM

I've tried Coke Zero. I like it; it's "better" (that is, more like regular Coke) than diet Coke, although a refined palate can note a few distinctions.

I am a fan of both Coke and diet Coke, and hence I don't think one or the other is really "better," but insofar as it's a product trying to imitate the original (but with less sugar), it's not bad.

Posted by: Jim D on August 1, 2005 5:40 PM

I've also tried Coke Zero. It's not awful, but it won't make me replace Diet Coke or Pepsi One anytime soon. It's definitely a "buy if it's on sale" soda.

The commercial is trying too hard to be "hip" while reviving a classic theme. It's definitely not geared to people that are old enough to have seen the original.

Posted by: William Hughes on August 1, 2005 6:57 PM

I've seen it, and to my ear the strains of the original don't really kick in till about halfway through. Like most sequels, it's not as good as the original.

Posted by: Linkmeister on August 1, 2005 7:08 PM

Count me as a Coke Zero fan. Definitely more tolerable than Diet COke in that it does not have that "aftertaste" so many Diet drinks do.

I realize I look at the commercial in a different light than most but the striking thing to me is that I remember all the children of the world on a far away hill and when I see it today, I see all those same races, but now they are on an inner city buiding rooftop pointing out how the world has shrunk since that makes me feel old when I remember that is when I graduated from high school.

Posted by: Carl Whitmarsh on August 1, 2005 11:16 PM

I hate this "new" coca-cola comeial because it ruinds the orgainal version of it.

Posted by: Rosalie on August 14, 2005 2:47 PM

i'm pretty young so i probably wasn't around while hilltop came out but I absolutely adore the commercial and i want to find the sheet music for it. This is a pretty catchy commercial. Me and my sister love it and we're trying to memorize the new lyrics. I found this site trying to google for the lyrics of the COKE version... and the music.

Posted by: julia on August 15, 2005 10:36 PM

I agree about liking the new commercial. I'm a coke history fan and I have the audio versions of "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" and "Teach the World to Sing" on my computer... the reason I like it is that it incorporates a piece of the past into today, and that just inspires me.

Posted by: rebecca on August 16, 2005 8:28 PM

I hate the commercial. Not because it's unoriginal, and not because I don't like Coca-Cola's products (I don't even drink soda often). I hate it because it's a bold faced lie about everything Coca Cola Inc. really stands for. Namely, murder and imperialism, not this hippie "chill-out" bull they're trying to sell. Coca-Cola Inc. is responsible for hundreds of deaths of laborers in Columbia, and for intolerable abuses around the world. So pardon me if I don't buy their world "harmony" propaganda.

The link below isn't to my site, but it's an informative one nonetheless.

Posted by: Esther on August 18, 2005 6:29 PM

Maybe they are about peace...or secretly at least. Have you seen this? I can't tell if it's real or not. Crazy

Posted by: michellero on August 19, 2005 5:56 PM

I liked the new commercial. And I love the old one. Given time I think I would like the new one just as much. I remember the orginal one. There is nothing wrong with making the orginal one more up to date as long as they don't forget the orginal one. I want the lyrics to this one. I want all the lyrics. Not just the chorus. Life moves on and changes, but stays the same at the same time, why not something as great as this comercial changing to fit the times. And I am a diet sprite drinker and diet coke. I don't care about the new product, I just prefer Coke products over anything else. And I like the song.

Posted by: Mystir on August 27, 2005 1:02 AM

Apparently, I'm not alone in having seen the first Hilltop version of this ad. I was getting worried there, for a minute. I personally agree with the theory of updating the commercial if only for the education of the people today who don't know about the original... And I'm not even a fan of carbonated beverages. I might try the Coca Cola Zero to see what it tastes like, but I can guarantee I'll enjoy both of the songs far more than the drinks being advertised.

Posted by: Nawlins on September 3, 2005 1:49 AM

ok so im pretty much in love with this song and my friends laugh at me casue i know every word and i definitly makes me happy every time it comes on!

Posted by: claire on September 17, 2005 4:14 PM

anyone know where i can download either the new advert or the new background music to the advert?

Posted by: daz on September 20, 2005 4:48 PM

Love is two people sipping on a Coca Cola on a warm sunny day.

Posted by: Lamar Cole on September 27, 2005 4:06 PM