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COCA COLA ADS: THE COCACOLONISATION

bottles of coca cola

‘Cocacolonisation’ is a term that describes the globalisation of American culture, represented by the ubiquitousness of Coca-Cola ads. To us, the most intriguing part of this notion is that Cocolonisation could never have happened without effective Coke advertisements.

Below, we take a look at how Coca-Cola has taken over the four corners of the world using its television advertisements, and we explore how music plays an important role in each. 

Be warned, you’re likely to crave a glass of Coca-Cola at some whilst reading this article, so grab a cold bottle...

bottle of coca cola

Contents

  • The Magic of Coca-Cola's Advertising Strategy
    • What is Coca-Cola's advertising strategy?
    • Is Coca-Cola advertising effective?
    • Coca-Cola ad songs
  • Coca-Cola Ad Campaigns
    • Coca-Cola Print Ads: The Early Years
    • 1920s Coca-Cola Print Ads
    • 1950s Coca-Cola Print Ads
    • Newest Coca-Cola Print Ads
  • Coca-Cola Ads: The Best Coca-Cola Ads in Recent History
    • Coca-Cola Ads of 2021
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2020
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2019
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2018
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2017
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2016
    • Coca-Cola Ad 2015
    • Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad
  • Vintage Coca-Cola Ads
    • First Coca-Cola Ad
    • Coca-Cola Santa Ad
    • Coca-Cola Pulls Offensive Ad: The Coca-Cola Mexican Ad
  • Music For Advertising

coca cola ads

The Magic Of Coca-Cola's Advertising Strategy

It's not easy at the top; new brands are coming through all the time and there’s a lot of competition for consumers’ attention.

By continuously producing television commercials, billboard ads, social media posts and more, The Coca-Cola Company can rest assured knowing that they're always front and centre when it comes to choosing a drink.

What Is Coca-Cola’s Advertising Strategy?

Although each advert is very different from the next, the overarching theme of Coca-Cola’s advertising strategy is happiness.

Since the 19th Century, Coca-Cola has been selling its drinks by selling happiness in a bottle, and this doesn’t look set to change anytime soon. 

As for who does Coca-Cola’s advertising, the brand launched a global media and creative agency review at the end of 2020, which they expect to complete by the end of 2021. As previously mentioned, Coca-Cola’s ad budget runs to approximately $4.2bn globally.

As one might imagine, Coca-Cola’s ad budget is huge, which certainly helps to explain why the brand’s ads are so impressive.

According to Investopedia’s 2020 article which explores Coca-Cola's advertising expenses, the company spent around $4 billion a year on advertising their soft beverages worldwide between 2015 and 2019.

We guess it’s not such a high price to pay when your company is estimated to be worth around $80.9 billion.

Is Coca-Cola Advertising Effective?

Whatever one’s feelings towards the multinational conglomerate, it’s impossible to deny that Coca-Cola’s advertising techniques are effective.

Each year, Coca-Cola makes billions of dollars thanks to its consistent, persuasive advertising techniques. In 2020 alone, The Coca-Cola Company made US$33.01 billion.

coca cola ads

Coca-Cola Ad Songs

When you realise how much money Coca-Cola spends on advertising each and every year, it’s no surprise that Coca-Cola has access to the best music in the world.

As well as production background tracks, the brand occasionally incorporates music from world-renowned artists into their marketing projects.

As you work through the ads below, you will see how leading artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Thundercat, AC/DC and Avicii have worked on or contributed tracks to enhance Coca-Cola commercials.

Here's our selection of the ten best songs featured in Coca-Cola Ads:

  • La La La - Mr Pape
  • Anywhere In The World - Mark Ronson, Katy B
  • Wavin' Flag - K'naan
  • Taste The Feeling - Avicii
  • The World Is Ours - Aloe Blacc
  • Tell Me How - Tyler, The Creator
  • Just Because - Thundercat
  •  Only You - Yazoo
  • Are You Ready - ACDC
  • I Just Wanna Make Love To You - Etta James

coca cola ads

Coca-Cola Ad Campaigns

Coca-Cola Print Ads: The Early Years

Television had yet to be invented when Coca-Cola first released (circa spring 1886); thus, the company relied on print advertisements to get the word around about their groundbreaking soft drink beverage. 

Late-1800s Coca-Cola ads often featured illustrated women, delicately sipping a glass of the soft drink.

The aim was to associate the beverage with the beau monde so that consumers aspired to be Coca-Cola drinkers. Who wouldn’t want to be spotted sipping the same soft drink as members of high society?

Copy-focused Coca-Cola ads of the 1800s would often emphasise the drink's popularity to convey the notion that one was missing out if you weren’t drinking the sweet, sparkling drink.

For example, one print ad from 1890 reads, Coca-Cola. The most popular drink of the season. Refreshing and invigorating. Try a glass. 5c. For Sale at Benge’s.”. Subsequently, the slogan delicious and refreshing” popped up on many print ads during the decade, to further instil the idea that Coca-Cola is something everyone has to try. 

coca cola ads

1920s Coca-Cola Print Ads

By the 1920s, around seven million bottles of Coca-Cola were being consumed a day – naturally, the brand plastered this fact onto their conspicuous print advertisements.

Evidently, the brand was still convincing people to drink the beverage by informing them that everyone else was drinking it. 

During the roaring 20s, Coca-Cola wanted to make sure they were appealing to both genders, so they started to incorporate men into their print ads – both on their own and alongside women.

The men they were targeting were inner-city metropolitans. In fact, many 1920s print Coca-Cola ads seem to suggest that the brand was keen to build an association with the affluent white-collar men of New York City; likely because they realised that these were the consumers with the most significant disposable income.

Another strategy Coca-Cola had during the 1920s was to place focus on the thirst-quenching properties of Coca-Cola. Slogans that came from the brand during this time, including ‘Enjoy Thirst’, ‘Thirst Knows No Season’ and ‘Enjoy Thirst’.

Slowly but surely, Coca-Cola was planting the idea into the minds of passive consumers that drinking the beverage throughout the day will keep you feeling energised.

1900s coca cola ad man and woman walking by fancy car with coke

1950s Coca-Cola Print Ads 

During the 1950s, every nuclear family was jumping through hoops to keep up with the Joneses.

To capitalise on this state of mind, Coca-Cola advertised their soft beverage as the missing ingredient to one's post-war, put-together lifestyle. This explains slogans such as ‘What You Want is a Coke’, ‘Coca-Cola Makes Good Things Better’ and ‘Sign of Good Taste’.

Not unexpectedly, many of the print ads that arose from Coca-Cola during the 1950s featured illustrations of ‘the perfect housewife’ – a woman who was always smiley, well-presented and organised.

Housewife illustrations were used by the company to convey the idea that good wives buy Coke for their breadwinning husbands. Sexist, we know.

During the rearmost months of the year, Coca-Cola would incorporate Santa Claus into their ads – a character, so to speak, that they had included in the marketing strategies since the 1930s.

A popular slogan that accompanied the Santa ads of the 1950s was ‘For Sparkling Holidays’ – a slogan that conveys the idea that Coke is ideal for adding a little life to one’s festive period.

1950s coca cola ad showing family watching tv drinking coke

Newest Coca-Cola Print Ads

As you most likely remember, Coca-Cola made an impact with their 2010 ‘Share a Coke’ campaign that centred around named bottles.

The campaign proved to be a massive hit as millions worldwide would pick up bottles that featured their name and the names of friends and family members. The only downfall of the campaign is that some individuals with unique names were frustrated to discover their name was left out. 

For 2021, Coca-Cola teamed up with Wunderman Thompson Brazil – a marketing communications agency – to work out a way to reinvent the Share a Coke campaign to please everyone. They came up with the Share A Coke Alphabet campaign. 

Released exclusively in Latin America, the Share A Coke Alphabet campaign pivoted around the idea of Coke bottles and cans adorned with a letter from the alphabet: that way everyone could get involved in the fun.

The print ads that accompanied the 2021 campaign are of a simple, pared-back design – they put focus on the letter-adorned cans and bottles and effectively communicate that the Share A Coke campaign has returned. Placed against a Coke red backdrop, Coke and Coke Zero cans are lined up to spell words and phrases such as ‘alphabet’, ‘cambiar’ (which translates to ‘change’ in English), and ‘share a coke’. 

share a coke

Coca-Cola Ads of 2021

Let's take a look at some of the best Coca-Cola ads in recent history.

Coca-Cola Newest Ad: 'Just Because' - Featuring Music by Thundercat

The latest ad to come from conglomerate Coca-Cola focuses on the brand’s most famous low-sugar offering, Diet Coke.

The central theme behind the campaign is ‘Just Because’ – the idea that Diet Coke shouldn’t be reserved for any special kind of occasion or for when one is thirsty, it should be consumed when one fancies the taste of the drink.

The dream-like visuals of the commercial seem to indicate that drinking a can of Diet Coke can transport you to a place of tranquility – it can bring you joy, no matter what situation you find yourself in. 

Music: to add to the fanciful vibe of the commercial, Coca-Cola commissioned Grammy Award-winning artist Thundercat to remix the Diet Coke jingle for the minute-long video.

The artist’s tranquil vocals ask the audience member to take a deep breath and relax whilst the commercial plays out, and perhaps consider how they can swiftly get their hands on a cold can of the good stuff.

Open That Coca-Cola - Tyler, The Creator Ad

Coca-Cola’s latest ad is the kind of fun-loving commercial we all needed after a year spent in and out of lockdown.

It transports the viewer to different bright and colourful locations across a metropolis, showing people from different backgrounds and demographics drinking Coke and then suddenly breaking into dance. 

Music: The song used in the ad comes from alternative rap artist Tyler, the Creator. The song – created especially for this ad – is quirky, upbeat and helps drive the concept. 

Speaking of rap, we’ve got a rap playlist right here at Audio Network. Take a look and you may discover the song for your next project.

Coca-Cola Ad 2020

Coca-Cola’s Christmas 2020 ad is sure to be remembered for years to come, as the heartwarming story reminds viewers that Christmas is primarily about family.

The ad begins with a young girl giving her father a letter for Santa before he travels for work. As the father forgets to send off the letter in time for Christmas, he decides to journey to the North Pole himself (somewhat stretching the Coca-Cola ad budget...)

When he finally arrives, he finds Santa’s grotto is closed for Christmas, but, fortunately, Santa is right behind him, sitting in the front seat of the iconic Coca-Cola truck. Santa gives the father a lift home and passes him his daughter’s letter back.

He opens the letter, revealing the message: ‘Dear Santa, Please bring Daddy home for Christmas’. In an emotional ending, the father reunites with his daughter.

Music: The advert is nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster, and the string-led composition used throughout flawlessly reflects the father's physical and emotional journey.

Discover similar tracks over in our Thoughtful and Emotional Strings playlist.

Coca-Cola Ad 2019

For some of us, Coca-Cola is our go-to beverage when eating out – hence, there’s a pretty special relationship between the company and the hospitality industry.

In 2019, The Coca-Cola Company celebrated a wide variety of different cuisines to advertise their soft drink.

From Arabic takeaways to Chinese restaurants, the ad shines a positive light on globalisation and promotes their product in the process, reminding the audience that Coca-Cola works well with any cuisine.

Music: To underline the global theme of the 2019 ad, Coca-Cola used Papa Music’s calm and cool indie cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’. The song adds a bohemian feel to the ad which gives it a little more character.

Interested in indie music for your advert? Take a look at our Indie Pop and Indie Rock playlists.

Coca-Cola Ad 2018

Making the most of their partnership with FIFA, Coca-Cola produced a FIFA World Cup advert for summer 2018.

Just as a World Cup match is about to commence, a variety of young individuals, located in cities across the world, run to their local Coca-Cola seller (or vending machine) to grab a drink. Unfortunately, as they’re running around, they miss an important goal.

As this ad was released before the FIFA World Cup 2018 kicked off, it aimed to persuade football fans to stock up on Coca-Cola products before the global event began.

Music: The song used in Coca-Cola’s FIFA World Cup 2018 ad is AC/DC’s ‘Are You Ready’. As you may be able to tell by the title, the song’s lyrics are apt and get the message across.

Interested in adding an element of rock to your ad? Preview songs on our Rock ‘n’ Roll playlist and find the song for you.

Coca-Cola Ad 2017

To promote the return of their Share A Coke name bottles, Coca-Cola released an advert titled ‘Alex’.

In an attempt to woo the female lifeguard on duty, a young man takes different Coke bottles over to her to figure out her name. After guessing a handful of names (like Kim, Lucia and Bertha), he gives up and is passed a bottle with his name, Alex, on the label.

At this moment, the lifeguard reveals her name is also Alex. Subsequently, they bond over this common ground by drinking from Alex Coke bottles.

Music: To emphasise the advert's summertime setting, Coca-Cola added Sunny & Gabe’s bright and colourful song ‘Vacay’. The song is practically perfect for the ad as it accentuates the fun tone of the narrative.

Have a listen to songs of a similar vibe over on our Holiday/Vacation production music page.

Coca-Cola Ad 2016

Coca-Cola has been around for decades (129 years, to be precise), ergo, it plays a role in some people’s most treasured memories.

In 2016, Coca-Cola played on this notion with an advert that focuses on men, women, teenagers and children making new memories that are connected, somehow, with the Coca-Cola brand. 

Music: This 2016 ad marked the first time Coca-Cola unveiled their ‘Taste the Feeling’ song and slogan.

The track, produced by Swedish DJ Avicii and sung by Aussie pop artist Conrad Sewell, has been used multiple times since its debut. 

Discover pop tracks for production purposes over in our Pop Top 40 playlist.

Coca-Cola Ad 2015

In 2015, Coca-Cola took things back to basics after running into controversy with their colonial Mexican ad (something we’ll explore a little later).

Titled ‘Yummmmmmm’, the commercial focuses on the soft drink being poured into a branded drinking glass, along with a few cubes of ice.

Music: The rock ‘n’ roll song used in the commercial features love-themed lyrics and a driving beat that gives the ad more depth.

If you’re interested in licensing a rock track for your next project, take a moment to discover our range of rock subgenres.

Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad

Our favourite Coca-Cola ad of recent years debuted during the Super Bowl 50 (2016) commercials.

Set in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), the ad focuses on Scott Lang (Ant-Man) stealing the Hulk’s last Coke mini. Impressively, the action is just as thrilling as a scene from the Avengers franchise.

Music: Both Coca-Cola and Marvel Studios films are renowned for their use of music, so it comes as no surprise that the music featured in this ad is epic.

Led by dramatic horns and tense strings, the orchestral track emphasises the excitement of the visuals.

Discover similar tracks over in our Orchestral Adventure playlist.

Vintage Coca-Cola Ads

First Coca-Cola Ad

Coca-Cola’s first TV advert aired on Thanksgiving Day 1950. The commercial starred Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and was part of a Thanksgiving television special.

At the beginning of the special, a woman is spotted holding a tray of Coca-Cola bottles, tempting viewers to drink a bottle whilst they watch.

Music: The music used in the 1950s Coca-Cola ad is archetypal of entertainment tracks of the period - grand, orchestral and redolent of Disney fairytales.

Have a look at our range of tracks inspired by the era in our 1950s playlist.

Coca-Cola Santa Ad

We’re firm believers that Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ ads are some of the most iconic adverts ever.

First released back in 1995, the commercials continue to bring joy to people across the world as they’re constantly revamped for new audiences (see the 2020 version above). And although the actors and story are subject to change, two things always remain the same – the Santa-adorned Christmas trucks and the classic ‘Holidays are Coming’ song. 

Music: Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ ad would be nothing without its iconic music track – for many, it's the theme tune of Christmas.

Discover our selection of festive music over on our Christmas music page.

Coca-Cola Pulls Offensive Ad - The Coca-Cola Mexican Ad

You may know Coca-Cola’s banned 2015 ad by many names, the most shocking being ‘The White Saviour Coca-Cola Ad’, but what is it about?

Essentially, a group of caucasian teens travel to a small Mexican village with bottles of Coca-Cola. Here, they interact with indigenous villagers using body language and construct a bottle cap Christmas tree in the village centre.

Sure, the idea of Coca-Cola’s Mexican ad was to convey a message of unity, but the tone didn’t sit right with many people – and it’s not hard to see why.

The story comes across as extremely inappropriate and racist as it suggests that white people are here to ‘save’ the indigenous people of Mexico and that Americanisation is the secret to happiness.

Music: One thing Coca-Cola did get right with this ad is the music – it’s joyful, festive and filled with spirit. We especially love when the bells kick in around the 1-minute mark.

Discover similar tracks in our Christmas playlist.

Music For Advertising 

What do all Coca-Cola ads have in common? Great music. As we’ve discussed throughout this article, songs have played a vital role in Coca-Cola adverts over the years. In most instances, music takes the ad to the next level. If you want more, why not research Coca-Cola 1960s advertising and let us know what you find on our socials?

For more expertise and inspiration, find out what made our pick of the best Nike ads, best Gillette ads and best Adidas ads. Plus, find out how much it costs to advertise on TV.

Need Music for Your Project?

At Audio Network we create original music, of the highest quality, for broadcasters, brands, creators, agencies and music fans everywhere. Through clear and simple licensing, we can offer you a huge variety of the best quality music across every conceivable mood and genre. Find out how we can connect you with the perfect collaborator today by clicking the button below!

This page was initially published 19/03/2021 and updated 10/08/2021 and 20/04/2022


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