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Uncola: The Video History of a 7UP Breakthrough Ad

How Actor Geoffrey Holder Brought Down a Racial Barrier

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the early 1970s, as part of its new "uncola" advertising strategy, the 7UP company had J. Walter Thompson produce a TV commercial starring actor, director and choreographer Geoffrey Holder as a Caribbean planter explaining the difference between cola nuts and 7UP's "uncola nuts," lemon and lime. The extraordinary performance of the Trinidad-born Mr. Holder made the spot one of the most remembered commercials of all time. But behind the scenes, the project also represented a dramatic change in the marketing culture of the soft-drink company -- the first time it allowed a person of color to be cast in its TV ad. Researched and produced by Bill Barre and Karl Idsvoog, both professors at Kent State University, this seven-minute program uses interviews with former JWT executives Charlie Martell and Jon Furr to tell the story of 7UP's racial breakthrough.

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