Music

'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing': The Story Behind the Classic Coca-Cola Jingle

Screengrab from YouTube

Back in the early '70s, a man named Bill Backer was an executive working for Cola Cola's advertising agency, McCann Erickson. He found himself delayed at an airport in Ireland with songwriters Roger Cook and Billy Davis. While looking around the airport during his layover, he noticed people were drinking Cokes together while and laughing and joking around. He picked up a napkin and wrote "I'd like to buy the world a Coke." When he shared it with Cook and songwriter Roger Greenaway, it was clear he was on to something. 

A melody from a past ad jingle that Cook and Greenaway had written, "True Love and Apple Pie," was used as a starting point to put together a jingle for Coke using Backer's words from the napkin. Backer, Cook, Davis, and Greenaway reworked the old tune and once it was ready and lyrics were written, hired pop group The New Seekers to record it for a radio ad in 1971. The song became so popular that it was adapted into a now-iconic Coca Cola commercial for television later that year. 

Read More: Do You Know the Difference Between Pepsi and Coke?

At the time, The New Seekers were unable to fit the TV commercial into their schedule so The Hilltop Singers were hired to perform the song on camera. The jingle was so popular that it was re-written into a full-length song (without the lines name-dropping the brand) and was ready to debut on the radio stations. Both The New Seekers and The Hilltop Singers released their own versions of the pop song, which reached the top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

In addition to creating hit records for two bands, the Coca Cola campaign went down in history as one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time. The positive message of hope resonated with young people and created life long fans of the Coca-Cola company. The commercial showed all kinds of people standing together enjoying their bottle of Coke, showing that the brand is for anyone and everyone.

The classic commercial even plays a role in the AMC series Mad Men, when protagonist Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is seen creating the "Hilltop" ad.

"I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" Lyrics

I'd like to build 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
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company
I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land
(That's the song I hear)
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to build 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
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company
I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land
(That's the song I hear)
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony, that's the song I hear

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'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing': The Story Behind the Classic Coca-Cola Jingle