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What the … Buying the World a Coke Ad?

July 13, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Buying the World a Coke Ad?

Today’s WTF video is near and dear to my heart.  Because it’s the very first commercial I remember seeing as a kid.  Which means it was the very first time I was persuaded to buy something.  Or to buy something for someone else.

I don’t really want to buy the world anything.  Okay, maybe food, peace, a few more glaciers, a few more snow leopards, a dry martini.

But a Coke?


In fact, that’s the last thing the world needs right now.  Okay not “the last thing” — the last thing would be a new daytime talk show hosted by a former reality star.  But a Coke is perhaps somewhere on the short list.

Still, I have to hand it to Coca-Cola on this ad.  They’ve done it.  They’ve made a product seem inspiring.  Now days, all we want our soft drinks to do is make us sexy, cool and a little less chubby.  But this?  This is a liquid hug.  With real cane sugar.  And a slight whiff of patchouli.

That’s because back in the ’70s, things were different — people were different!  People wanted their products to mean something!  People wanted their television to care!  People wanted a folk singer to breastfeed her baby on Sesame Street — while Big Bird gawked in the background!

And not a single angry parent started a Facebook page to boycott Tickle Me Grover dolls.

And not a single cheeky Muppet tweeted “I wish Buffy Sainte-Marie would breastfeed me.”

See?  That’s the ’70s for you.

Pure and natural and uncomplicated.  And really, really stoned.

78 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2012 5:48 am

    This commercial warmed my heart. It’s not the first one I remember (Snaps comes to mind, although no one else in the world will remember what those are), but it’s close. Didn’t they do a Christmas version where the singers made up a living Christmas tree? Or did I just make that up?

    • July 13, 2012 12:22 pm

      Snaps — oh I wish I knew what those were! Not like the firecracker things I assume. Is it a breakfast cereal or am I think of Snap Crackle Pop? ;)

      The Christmas version is the only one I actually remember seeing as a kid. I want to say there was also a magazine ad of it that regularly appeared in my mom’s Good Housekeeping magazines, which I flipped through cover to cover.

      • July 13, 2012 4:35 pm

        It’s the firecracker thing that you throw on the sidewalk. They used to be sold in the toy department. They were next to the lawn darts or something.

      • July 13, 2012 5:13 pm

        We had lawn darts. I liked lawn darts. I played them with my brother in our backyard. And my brother used to booby trap my dresser drawers with Snaps. It’s a wonder any of us are here today.

  2. July 13, 2012 5:51 am

    Oh, wait! I just watched the video! IT IS the living Christmas tree! There was another one out in a field that was awesome. I loved this commercial, and it totally ruined the Living Christmas Tree my family took me to see.

    • July 13, 2012 12:23 pm

      I don’t remember the one out in the field — I did check it out on YouTube. Quite the line-up of ’70s fashions.

  3. July 13, 2012 5:55 am

    Now there is a campaign- not only should you buy it- but buy it for every single person on the planet! Don’t you agree? Then you must not love world peace!?

    • July 13, 2012 12:24 pm

      You’re right — you have to buy one for every person in the world in order for the peace thing to work. If you only buy one, you’ve broken the chain — and if that happens, it’s 10 years of bad luck for the world. What choice do you have?

      • July 13, 2012 12:30 pm

        when orphans suffer….it’s my fault for not buying enough carbonated beverages.

  4. July 13, 2012 6:02 am

    Huh. I’ve always thought a shot of whisky was a liquid hug.

    That commercial really gave me the warm and fuzzies. I am drinking a Coke right now for breakfast, really helps the Frosted Flakes go down easier.

    It’s a little known fact that when this commercial was made, Coke was 99.99% cocaine.

    • July 13, 2012 12:27 pm

      Wow, DarDar — you’ve got a million a minute, don’t you. Are you trying to make me look bad? If I incorporated even one of these lines into this post (I’m partial to the last one), I might’ve written the greatest blog post in Childhood Relived’s history.

  5. July 13, 2012 6:26 am

    I will never be able to erase the image of Big Bird’s giant head looking on while that woman breastfeeds her baby. I need more than a coke now. How did you find this?

    • July 13, 2012 12:32 pm

      I know, right? And then even worse when I’m reminded that there’s actually a man in that costume who’s mimicking the voice of a toddler. I’ve decided the next time I nurse my son, I’ll have have Big Bird look on as a special aversion technique — it could be a very effective way to curb boob obsession in his teen years. I’ll call it The Muppet Effect.

  6. July 13, 2012 6:42 am

    Haha! I am sure at some point in time the full extent of the mental damage done by watching that Big Bird video will become apparent when I start screaming uncontrollably and then pass out at the sight of somebody in a fluffy yellow jumper drinking a glass of milk.

    • July 13, 2012 12:34 pm

      I’m thinking of buying a new yellow feathered dress to wear for my next date night — are you saying it might not have its intended effect on my husband?

  7. July 13, 2012 6:55 am

    I wanna see Don Draper come up with this one on Mad Men. Or better yet Peggy. They are totally having her come up with Virgina Slims next season.

    “No! Just coke. No rum in it. Just buying each other soda. That’s it. That’s the key to world peace. Trust me. Wow, I just saved the world. I’m going to go have a coke with a lot of rum in it.”

    • July 13, 2012 12:37 pm

      Yes! I’d love to see this ad pitched by Don. Oh, Mariclaire — I wondered if you were as obsessed with that show as I am! OBSESSED! I don’t even want to relevantly respond to your comment now as much as I want to begin a week-long back-and-forth dialogue about Mad Men Season 5.

  8. Jeni permalink
    July 13, 2012 7:08 am

    I used to sing in a choir and the only song the group boycotted en masse was the non-Coke version. I lobbied hard for the original, to no avail.

    • July 13, 2012 12:38 pm

      Ha! I love it. C’mon — it’s not quite as beautiful if it’s not trying to sell you something.

  9. July 13, 2012 7:48 am

    Wow! Breast-feeding on a syndicated kid’s show!! I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. I too remember the Coke commercial, and the song with all the correct lyrics. Coke definitely “branded” me as a kid. Today’s marketers continue to creep me out with their tactics to grab children’s minds, which is why I shy away from many of their platforms. They still very good at it…35 years later. Maybe better.

    Perhaps Big Bird would look less creepy gazing down at a nursing baby if nursing (a completely natural and INTENDED way of feeding mammalian young) didn’t elicit such “weird feelings” in watchers today. After all, people don’t freak out at puppies or kitties or calves doing the same thing. Geez.

    • July 13, 2012 12:45 pm

      What happened to ads like this one? Really.

      C’mon, Shannon — but doesn’t Big Bird’s gawking creep you out just a tiny bit? ;) Full disclosure — I’ve detested Big Bird since day one. Drove me up the wall with his “I’m a baby and I sleep with a teddy bear” thing. (Of course, I also kick puppies and hate sunshine.) Grover was always the guy for me. So maybe that’s why I’d probably pull a Three Stooges to Big Bird’s eyes?

      • July 13, 2012 2:37 pm

        Yes, but we’ve discussed the Elmo thing and how big, giant, fluffy puppets somehow speak the language of toddlers. We may not get it, but kids do! I’m cookie monster girl myself, or perhaps the “ma-nah-me-nah” guy. I really started getting into Jim Henson during the Muppet Show series in the 80’s. Awesome stuff!

        Big Bird…creepy to say the least, but you’ve seen how toddlers act when they spy a nursing mom. I can’t tell you how many times a little kid would practically PRY himself between the suckler and my boob to have a better look-see. We’re talking millimeters from the operation. Big Bird looked to be imitating that very thing.

        It could’ve been worse I guess. Imagine if it was Bert…with the unibrow…raising slowly…

      • July 13, 2012 2:40 pm

        Ha! Bert would indeed be the most creepy peeping Muppet of all — good call, Shannon! I can absolutely see Bert as ogler and probably a cross dresser too.

        Jim Henson was a saint. If you haven’t, you’ve got to watch that Being Elmo documentary we talked about. I think it’s still streaming on Netflix.

      • July 13, 2012 2:50 pm

        Thanks for the reminder. Scott just queued it up (he’s ironing, I’m blogging…HA!), and it’s an off-Friday and the girls are away at my brother’s. I might just get to watch it from beginning to end without interruption!

      • July 13, 2012 2:52 pm

        FYI — it’s totally kid-friendly and, I think, even fascinating for kids to see (the making of Muppets, for one). So no references to drugs and no Muppet porn either. Enjoy your quiet afternoon!

  10. July 13, 2012 10:11 am

    I hear ya sister. And I just saw the newspaper article in your sidebar. I didn’t know you’ve ALWAYS been famous. Kudos!

    • July 13, 2012 12:48 pm

      I know — have you ever read words more moving and poetic than “Another thing that makes me happy is when I get all my homework done early…”? And then to think I wrote those words as a 5th grader! I can’t believe I didn’t win a Pulitzer.

  11. July 13, 2012 10:41 am

    hahah oh my! I love this post so much!

    The tune is so freaking catchy!

    • July 13, 2012 1:02 pm

      I’ve been singing it for the past two days and it’s getting to be a bit ridiculous. And now I want a Coke of course.

  12. July 13, 2012 11:07 am

    The first commercial I recall was for Rock-em/Sock-em Robots. In my book, both products induce tooth loss.

  13. July 13, 2012 11:52 am

    I KNOW breastfeeding is a perfectly natural thing – I did it for several years with both kids. But so is pooping, and I don’t want to watch Big Bird watching Grover do that, either.

    I don’t usually drink Coke, but if that’s what it takes to bring peace to the world, damn it…set me up with a 2-liter and a really big glass!

    • July 13, 2012 1:22 pm

      I’m still breastfeeding my almost-3-year-old (pause for collective gasp) — and I can’t decide whether putting on a Big Bird hand puppet show while he nurses would cause a future obsession or a future aversion. There’s a good chance he’d later end up that guy who sculpts his mashed potatoes into breasts.

      Gas station big gulps across America are where the peacemaking will begin.

    • July 14, 2012 6:02 am

      I am so with you on that, Peg! hahaha! Oh my! I am all for breastfeeding in public (hell, I did it all the time) but I draw the line at creepy mutant birds gawking at me while I’m doing it….

      • July 15, 2012 8:21 pm

        I have always been too modest to breastfeed in public. (That and I’m fearful that Big Bird will appear from behind a park bench.) I think this modesty thing goes back to that discussion we once had about our disastrous first kisses, which we avoided like the plague. And perhaps also the fact that I was forced to get naked in 7th grade gym class. I’m really, really good at pretending to be a normal person.

      • July 15, 2012 8:25 pm

        Angie, I don’ t know quite how to break this to you, but you have failed miserably at convincing anyone that you are “a normal person.” Perhaps you should start with a less lofty goal and work up from there?

      • July 15, 2012 8:32 pm

        I know you’re right — and I believe we once decided that this is why we get along so well.

      • July 15, 2012 8:34 pm

        Well yeah. That and we live in different states.

      • July 15, 2012 8:38 pm

        That’s what you think…(da-da-daaaaah)

      • July 15, 2012 8:44 pm

        Miss Angie Goes to Washington?

      • July 15, 2012 8:54 pm

        Yeah, I hear ya. Lots of bad memories for me too. I was modest while nursing in public. I would be discreet, hide in the corner, cover myself up with a giant blanket…etc. I wasn’t on Time magazine with my kid hanging precariously from my boob or anything. Although if I had done that, I could’ve been famous!

      • July 15, 2012 8:57 pm

        My one public nursing memory. I was at the swimming pool with my son. He was over a year and walking and was trying to pull off my swimsuit. I ran off to a tree on a grassy hill where no one was around and threw a beach towel or myself but all the while I was looking around like at any moment the cops would show up in eight squad cars, and I’d end up with my photo in the newspaper the next day.

  14. July 13, 2012 12:14 pm

    When these ads aired, I was about the same age as the young people in the spot. I remember wondering whether I couldn’t get a role in the next commercial – representing MY ethnic group – skinny, flat-chested,thin-lipped bookworms. We were certainly underrepresented in all forms of advertising.

    • July 13, 2012 2:44 pm

      That quota might’ve been filled by Cheryl Tiegs in a pair of sexy glasses? Or Prairie Dawn from the Muppet Show?

  15. July 13, 2012 12:15 pm

    I feel a lot more mellow having watched that commercial, and the Sesame Street clip. Much more mellow. And hungry. Have you got any Oreos?

    • July 13, 2012 1:46 pm

      I’ve definitely got the munchies now too. I think there might have been some residual smoke still lingering in the air after I watched that commercial. Of course, not that I intentionally inhaled.

  16. July 13, 2012 12:30 pm

    Ha ha! First off, I am just loving the picture of Lenore on the right. It’s so fab, it melts away any bitterness I had about losing. Heck. Now I’m ready to buy her a Coke!

    • July 13, 2012 2:31 pm

      Every time you buy a Coke an angel gets its wings.

      And, yes, Lenore looks fabulous as the new poster girl for Dynomite!

  17. surroundedbyimbeciles permalink
    July 13, 2012 1:05 pm

    It was a great decade to grow up in. Although, I didn’t want to buy the world a Coke. I wanted them all to myself. I suppose that is an “80s greed is good” way of thinking.

    • July 13, 2012 2:34 pm

      Hilarious — you captured the ’80s there. Maybe even more so would be if you were to buy the world a Coke only to sell it to the world for profit. As in “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and hope it pays me double.” In fact, I think that was Coke’s 1984 ad campaign.

  18. July 13, 2012 2:17 pm

    Groovy ad, yet strangely nonsensical. Can’t even begin to imagine how I could keep the world company, or buy it a home, or grow honeybees for that matter.

    • July 13, 2012 2:36 pm

      Thanks for noticing those nutty lyrics! Yes, I can now rest my case that this was written in a marijuana field.

  19. July 13, 2012 3:54 pm

    This really was one of my favorite all-time commercials. I think it was one of the first I can remember too. Or at least that I took notice of while watching all that grown-up TV I was hooked on.

  20. July 13, 2012 11:36 pm

    They made us sing this song in school… except without the Coke bits…

    • July 15, 2012 8:18 pm

      It is definitely a school choir song. I think sometimes they write these songs with that in mind. “And school choirs everywhere will be performing free advertising for us!” No Coke lines needed. We all know what it’s about.

  21. July 14, 2012 12:21 am

    I always loved that “… and snow-white turtle doves.” line. Talk about LSD-induced lyrics!

    • July 15, 2012 8:17 pm

      You called it there! It all makes sense now, doesn’t it…

  22. July 14, 2012 10:15 am

    Forgive me if I repeat any other commenters thoughts. I enjoy reading your posts, but with this many comments, I run the risk of losing my own thoughts for witty comments.

    Back in those halcyon days we could sing about buying the world a coke without the cynics crying about the 3rd world laborers having to work overtime at 5 cents an hour to boost productivity to fill the order, or the potential of global warming after all those caps are popped off, not to mention the lack of adequate recycling facilities or the red dye #37 in the labels.

    As for Big Bird, he was always snooping his beak into other people’s private moments. For the record, the Count was just out of microphone range, crying “One Two!….Two lactating Nipples!! AH! AH! AH!!”

    • July 14, 2012 11:01 am

      That last line is just so wrong….well done.

      • July 14, 2012 11:18 am

        I find the Count visits often doing guest shots as the voice in my head…the dirty bastard!

      • July 15, 2012 8:25 pm

        I never understood why vampires are supposed to make kids feel more comfortable with math.

      • July 15, 2012 8:46 pm

        Well…it DID work with chocolate flavored cereal…

      • July 15, 2012 8:25 pm

        So bad it’s good!

    • July 15, 2012 8:24 pm

      No, believe me, you are 100% unique in your comments. I’d even recommend some kind of a copyright on them.

      When the Count isn’t counting nipples, he runs a small adult book store in Milwaukee.

      • July 15, 2012 8:45 pm

        One…Two…THREE!!!…THREE copies of Lesbian Foot Fetishist Monthly!!! $45 dollars please….AH…AHH…AHHHH!

  23. July 14, 2012 11:28 am

    Big Bird was conspicuously absent from the set the day Alicia Silverstone showed up to feed her baby. When reached for comment, he stated “Been there, done that”

    • July 15, 2012 8:26 pm

      You should be a professionally paid blog commenter.

      • July 15, 2012 8:47 pm

        Too much pressure…besides, I don’t want to have to submit to the pressures of THE MAN!

  24. July 15, 2012 2:23 pm

    One of the all-time great commercials.

    Much more effective than Pepsi’s counter ad, “I’d like to drown the world in Pepsi and listen to its screams.”

    • July 15, 2012 8:32 pm

      Good call. And I also wonder how they refashioned the ad to fit New Coke. “I’d like to buy the world a New Coke, and hope it doesn’t send it back…” Okay, yours was more catchy.

  25. July 20, 2012 12:48 am

    classic, I can remember that ad and can sing every word. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. :)

    • July 22, 2012 6:46 pm

      I don’t think there’s been a single advertising song that has topped it to this day.

  26. July 22, 2012 6:36 pm

    I tried to “like” this post 3 separate times, forgetting I had already “liked” it already. But oh, I like it.

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