The other day I found this very cool little piece of marketing history. A vintage jewelry box that plays “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”. This little box really hit home for me the depth that marketing reaches into our lives. It also demonstrates the power of brand personality:
“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” is a pop song which originated as a jingle in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola. The song, produced by Billy Davis and performed by The New Seekers, portrayed a positive message of hope and love sung by a multicultural collection of teenagers on the top of a hill. It originally included the line “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” and repeated “It’s the real thing” as Coca-Cola’s marketing theme at the time (Source: Wikipedia article).
The song is one of the most upbeat and catchy jingles ever written. Across the country there were school performances, reenactments of the commercial, and a quick and seamless acceptance of the tune into popular culture (not the first time Coke pulled something of this magnitude off: there are reasons why Santa’s suit matches the Coca-Cola label so perfectly…)
The song contributed magnitudes to Coke’s brand personality. Not that Coke is the real thing as the slogan stated at the time, but that coke is uplifting and optimistic, like the song. While the song was a hit, fans could also buy fashion accessories such as coke bell bottoms and fashion squares that also added to the perception of the brand. This turns the product into something more than a thing: it takes on humanistic traits, making it easier for consumers to like it. People often use their favorite brands as part of self definition, and with an upbeat and optimistic personality, Coke’s brand became a central part of that self definition for a large community. The brand community adopts the personification of the product as part of the brand identity, and ultimately the personality becomes the underlying pillar of brand equity.
As a pioneering move in the development of brand personalities, there are many industry articles about the partnering of the band with the brand, including a very cool collection of videos and advertisements at: Fifty Years of Coca-Cola Television Advertisements: Highlights from the Motion Picture Archives at the Library of Congress