Thursday
Feb112010

Nascar Drivers Navigate A 'New' Track: "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke"

February 10, 2010: Call it American Idol on wheels. Coca-Cola, a prime sponsor of the über-popular show on Fox, will break a TV spot during the Daytona 500 Feb. 14, also on Fox, featuring a chorus of Nascar drivers attempting to sing the classic marketing anthem, “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke." Coca-Cola is the "official sparkling beverage" of Nascar.

The spot channels the iconic "Hilltop," which first aired in 1971 showing people gathering on a hill in a Woodstock-era of peace and love, joining hands as they sing about “apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves.”

Here, the crooners laying down the track and showing off their racing and vocal pipes include Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler and Tony Stewart. The spot was filmed on location at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, this past December. Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

The commercial, “Harmony,” shows the Nascar drivers embroiled in action during the heat of a race. They each pull in for a pit stop after complaining to their respective crew chiefs over the radio and calling for adjustments. Before heading back out, the drivers are handed a Coke for refreshment. As we monitor subsequent driver radio chatter, we hear that the previously exasperated drivers are now harmonious in their thoughts, although not quite singing in harmony.

An updated version of the original Coke spot aired during Super Bowl XXIV on CBS in 1990 to help launch the "Can't Beat the Real Thing" ad campaign. According to Coke, 15 members of the original "Hilltop" commercial reprised their roles for that reunion ad.

“In the original ad, Coca-Cola was the bond that connected people through a spirit of optimism. That uplifting outlook still rings true today and is reflected in our Nascar-themed commercial in a fun, unexpected way,” Katie Bayne, CMO for Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. “By showing how a refreshing Coca-Cola can bring together even the most competitive rivals, we’re reminding people to take a moment to have fun, open a little happiness and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.”

Added Kevin Harvick, “It’s been both fun and an honor to be a part of creating a new Nascar take on a commercial that is such a big part of Coke’s history. Most of us drivers should probably stick to our day jobs, though, because I’m pretty sure our version of the famous Coca-Cola song won’t make it to the top of the charts.”

Consumers can hear exclusive audio of the drivers singing “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke”  at www.MyCokeRewards.com. A video featuring behind-the-scenes footage and the “Harmony” ad is available at YouTube.

Closing scene from the original "Hilltop" commercial in 1971.According to Coke, the song was recorded for the original spot by Australian pop group The New Seekers. Lead agency at the time was McCann-Erickson. It was slightly reworded to remove references to Coca-Cola and released in non-commercial form as "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" by The New Seekers and also The Hilltop Singers (a group formed by McCann-Erickson). Both versions sold more than a combined one million copies within the first year.

Others who have recorded the song as recently as 2002 include Chet Atkins, Jan Howard, Willis "Gator" Jackson, Ray Conniff Singers, Jessi Colter & Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare Jr., Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Jordanaires, Vera Lynn, Lea Salonga, Joe Loss & His Orchestra, Jim Nabors and Erich Kunzel & The Cincinatti Pops.

ORIGINAL COCA-COLA VERSION

"I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke"
(Bill Backer / Billy Davis / Roger Cook / Roger Greenaway)

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
And they sang...

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 (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 (Perfect harmony)
And I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company (It's the real thing)
I'd like to buy the world a coke
(Coke is what the world wants today)
And keep it company (Coca-Cola)
(It's the real thing)
I'd like to buy the world a coke
(Coke is what the world wants today)
And keep it company (Coca-Cola).

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