By CRAIG D'OOGE
"For the last 115 years, Coca-Cola has been embedded in the psyche of people around the world. Brand Coke became a cultural icon by forging an exceptional bond with them. Today, we call that brand-building … a successful brand both reflects a culture and shapes it. The body of our advertising, therefore, is a mirror on the reality of the past 100 years."
So said Douglas Daft, chairman and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Co., at a gala reception in the Library's Great Hall on Nov. 29. The event marked the donation of some 20,000 Coke television commercials to the Library as a Bicentennial "Gift to the Nation."
Standing between two towering obelisks displaying video images of vintage Coke commercials, the Librarian of Congress said, "This agreement is a model for how the private and public sectors can work together to meet the common goal of preserving and making available culturally important research materials."
"It has been a central part of Coca-Cola's advertising that we tell stories through which we build relationships with people around the world," said Mr. Daft. He introduced schoolchildren from the Urban Nation Hip Hop Choir, the Sidwell Friends Choir and the Children's Chorus of Washington, who sang "Our World," a new song from Coca-Cola that premiered at the event.
The gift will be conveyed to the Library over the next three to five years. The collection covers the early 1950s to the present and includes both U.S. and international ads from the company's portfolio of brands, including products such as Lilt and Fanta that are better known abroad. A preview of a number of Coca-Cola ads along with historical information and images of Coca-Cola television advertising is now on the Library's Web site at www.loc.gov. The collection comes to the Library fully digitized, with both preservation and access copies, as well as a catalog prepared by the Coca-Cola Archives in Atlanta.
A highlight of the collection is a compilation of outtakes from the famous "Hilltop" commercial of 1971, showing various scenes and actors that did not appear in the final version. Other spots include "Mean Joe Greene" (a television commercial that was so popular it spurred its own made-for-TV movie), the first "Polar Bear" spot, some experimental color television ads from 1964, some early black-and-white ads from the D'Arcy Agency in 1953 and contemporary international ads from Malaysia and Morocco.
The Coca-Cola Co.'s gift to the Library is expected to be continual, with additions being made to the collection on a regular basis as new advertising is produced.
During the reception, Mr. Daft also announced an additional gift of $125,000 for the Library to establish a fellowship for the study of communications and local culture. The fellowships will provide a stipend of $20,000 per year. Fellows will be chosen by a committee of scholars drawn from the fields of communications, anthropology and the humanities, according to Mr. Daft.
Mr. D'Ooge is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office.