See The Spots: Preview Coke's Big New Global Bottle Campaign

Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Make Appearances in Ads Celebrating Bottle's Centennial

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Coca-Cola is about to throw a big -- and expensive -- global birthday party for its 100-year-old bottle.

A yearlong centennial campaign will include 14 TV ads, a custom anthem, a traveling art exhibit, a global art competition and an outdoor and digital campaign featuring images of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Ray Charles, according to details released Thursday.

The campaign, which executives first teased last week, celebrates the curvy "contour" bottle that was patented in 1915. Ads will run in more than 140 countries. Most of the TV spots are by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland and Ogilvy & Mather, Paris. Contributions also came from Sid Lee, Canada and McCann, Madrid.

One commercial (above) called "Tale of Contour" tells a mythical story of how the bottle was created. Many of the TV ads include close-ups of the bottle, including one (below) called "curves."

The company declined to reveal spending figures. But when you take into account the number of countries in which it will run, the campaign represents the second-largest global effort in the brand's history. It falls just shy of last year's World Cup campaign that was shown in 175 countries, said Katie Bayne, senior VP-global sparkling brands.

Executives said late last year that the company would add $250 million to $350 million in global media investment in 2015. The new Coke campaign will seemingly consume a big chunk of that.

Strategically, the campaign gives Coke a platform to spotlight its 8-ounce bottle that is sold in glass and aluminum formats. The brand plans to give away some 30 million bottles worldwide via sampling efforts at festivals and other events, Ms. Bayne said. The smaller package size is a key plank of Coke's initiative to increase sales in an era when more consumers are watching their sugary soda intake.

Coke is "really using this 100th anniversary as a moment to galvanize our system," Ms. Bayne said in an interview.

The campaign also marks the beginning of a new strategy by Coke to collect input from multiple agencies and global business units on a big global campaign. In the past, a single agency typically led such efforts, Ms. Bayne said. "It's the idea that a good idea can be brought to life by multiple creative minds, versus one group doing all of the work," she said. For instance, some Coke business units are creating their own versions of the "Tale of Contour" spot using different introductions and endings that are reflective of their local markets, she said.

The campaign emphasizes Coke's place in history via an outdoor and digital campaign called "Kissed By" that includes images of pop-culture icons drinking Coke. One ad shows Elvis drinking a Coke during a 1952 recording session that spawned "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel." Another ad features Ms. Monroe enjoying a Coke during a 1953 publicity shoot for the film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

Coke Marilyn Monroe Ad
Coke Marilyn Monroe Ad

"Our archives are a treasure to us," Ms. Bayne said. "We have for years shot musicians, actors [and] opinion leaders holding and drinking our brands." To make the ads current, some markets, such as Japan, are interspersing popular local contemporary musicians, sports stars and actors, she said.

Coke will leverage a new musical anthem, called "Nobody Like You," across multiple ad elements. The song is by singer/songwriter Francesco Yates and will be available for paid download on streaming services like iTunes. The song includes snippets of the iconic Coke song, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." Footage of that classic ad is included in a music video that also includes other images from the brand's past and present.

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The brand also collected artwork from some 200 designers, artists and illustrators who were challenged to to "re-imagine vintage Coca-Cola bottle imagery and iconography." Some of the winning entries will be displayed in a traveling art exhibition that will make stops in more than 20 countries. The so-called "mash-up" artwork will also be included in a separate Coke art exhibit in the brand's hometown of Atlanta, as well as in a new book called "Kiss the Past Hello."

Coke is also launching a an app that promises to take viewers through a behind-the-scenes digital tour of Coca-Cola's archives.


Below are some key moments in the bottle's history, provided to Ad Age by Coke:


The contour bottle is patented by the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Ind. Until the development of the contour bottle – so distinctive it could be recognized in the dark or lying broken on the ground – Coca‑Cola bottlers used straight-sided bottles in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors.


Though common today, the 6-pack bottle carrier was an innovation developed by The Coca‑Cola Company to encourage people to take contour bottles of Coca‑Cola home and drink it more often.


The volume of Coca‑Cola sold in bottles first exceeded the volume amount sold through soda fountains.


The Coca-Cola bottle was the first commercial product to appear on the cover of Time magazine.


The idea of putting Coca‑Cola in cans was tested before World War II, but the testing stopped when materials were not readily available during the war. It was not until 1960 that Coca‑Cola in 12-ounce cans was introduced to the U.S. public. Early can graphics included a picture of the contour bottle, so people would know the same Coca‑Cola they found inside a bottle was inside the can.


The Coca‑Cola Company introduced an aluminium version of the contour bottle.

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