"You know, it happened right here 20 years ago," a woman says to her daughter, who's sitting next to her on a rock atop a verdant hill, at the start of this Super Bowl XXIV commercial. "Right here, mom?," her kid asks. "Mmm hmm. You just can't imagine what it felt like."
Actually, yes you can, because mom stares into space and starts smiling -- and then the shot dissolves, her present-day face blending into her younger visage. "I'd like to buy the world a home," we see and hear her younger self singing, "and furnish it with love." We suddenly realize this woman was the star of one of the most beloved TV commercials of all time, "Hilltop" from 1971 (and the 1972 Super Bowl), a Brit named Linda Higson who was 19 when she was the first singer in the original ad.
Back to present day and more singers crowd around her -- followed by romping children who suddenly arrive on the scene and enthusiastically join in.
Coca-Cola, once again working with agency McCann Erickson, is staging a "Hilltop" reunion, bringing 25 out of 40 of the original commercial's famously multicultural cast back together, now with their offspring. The song they sing is a mash-up, bridging "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" from 1971 and "Can't Beat the Real Thing," new for 1990.
The company previously created holiday versions of the original "Hilltop," the Associated Press reported at the time, "with one in 1977 featuring people aligned in the shape of a Christmas tree on a Brazilian hillside, holding candles while singing the song."