"I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" had its origins on January 18, 1971, in a London fog.
Bill Backer, creative director on the Coca-Cola account for the McCann Erickson advertising agency, was flying to London to meet up with Billy Davis, the music director on the Coca-Cola account, to write radio commercials with two successful British songwriters, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, to be recorded by the New Seekers, a popular British singing group.
The heavy fog in London forced the plane to land in Shannon, Ireland. Passengers had to remain near the airport in case the fog lifted. Some of them were furious about their accommodations. By the next day, Backer saw some of the most irate passengers in the airport cafe. Brought together by a common experience, many were now laughing and sharing stories over snacks and bottles of Coca-Cola. Backer wrote of the scene:
"In that moment [I] saw a bottle of Coke in a whole new light... [I] began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink that refreshed a hundred million people a day in almost every corner of the globe. So [I] began to see the familiar words, 'Let's have a Coke,' as more than an invitation to pause for refreshment. They were actually a subtle way of saying, 'Let's keep each other company for a little while.' And [I] knew they were being said all over the world as [I] sat there in Ireland. So that was the basic idea: to see Coke not as it was originally designed to be -- a liquid refresher -- but as a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes."
When he finally arrived in London, Backer told Billy Davis and Roger Cook what he had seen in the airport café. After he expressed his thoughts about buying everybody in the world a Coke, Backer noticed that Davis's initial reaction was not at all what he'd expected and asked him, "Billy, do you have a problem with this idea?"
Davis slowly revealed his problem. "Well, if I could do something for everybody in the world, it would not be to buy them a Coke."
Backer responded, "What would you do?"
"I'd buy everyone a home first and share with them in peace and love," Davis said.
Backer said, "Okay, that sounds good. Let's write that and I'll show you how Coke fits right into the concept."
And if you can’t let go of Don Draper’s simmering existential panic, there’s “The Twilight Zone.” In episode 5 of the first season an advertising executive sets out on a quest for his own sanity. (“One more board meeting, phone call, report, problem, I would have jumped right out the window.”) He stops at a gas station not far from the hometown he hasn’t visited in 25 years and walks into the past. All 156 original “Twilight Zone” episodes are on Hulu and iTunes.
If you haven’t watched the series finale of Mad Men, then you really shouldn’t be reading a story about the series finale of Mad Men. And if you continue reading this story about the series finale of Mad Men, don’t get angry at us for giving away what happens in the final moments of the series finale of Mad Men.
If anyone in the show has reached full enlightenment, it’s Joan. She traveled the furthest of any character. Peggy was always ambitious, and Don was always troubled. But the Joan we met in the pilot was a self-appointed female defender of patriarchy, and by the close of the finale she is determined to burn it all down.
It's the same beats as the pilot! Don goes emotional and hippie and understanding for a while, but just uses it as grist for new ads. Of course he learns the exact wrong lesson from the therapy session, of course he updates his charm for a new era where he can pretend to be so enlightened and spiritual now. It's perfect, he doesn't change, he just shifts into the right role a Don Draper person would have in that era, it's the two heady drugs of the 70s, cocaine and self-involvement. Don Draper is always a man of his time, it just took him a while to get to it and figure out how to exploit it.
Or, you know, the cynical capitalist wins. always.
I love the implication of finale: there was never ever any there there, Don isn't a big emotional mystery, he's the same cynical chump we met years ago, soul searching does t work on someone with no actual depths.
When we find Don in that place, and this stranger relates this story of not being heard or seen or understood or appreciated, the resonance for Don was total in that moment. There was a void staring at him. We see him in an incredibly vulnerable place, surrounded by strangers, and he reaches out to the only person he can at that moment, and it’s this stranger.
My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, “Wow, that’s awful.” But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led. There was a little bit of a crumb dropped earlier in the season when Ted says there are three women in every man’s life, and Don says, “You’ve been sitting on that for a while, huh?” There are, not coincidentally, three person to person phone calls that Don makes in this episode, to three women who are important to him for different reasons. You see the slow degeneration of his relationships with those women over the course of those phone calls.
Everyday it's a-gettin' closer
Goin' faster than a rollercoaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
Everyday it's a-gettin' faster
I’ll tell you this, and you’re the first person I’ve been able to share this with because you have to be so tight-lipped about everything with the show. Even though Matt had told me it was never going to happen, every chance I got I would always try to put in a little nuance–a look or an intention in a word–to leave that door open on the stuff they gave me with Lizzie. I was trying to pull my own secret coup. I’m sure everyone on the show picked up on it, but I tried to will that ending to happen as much as I could. I like to believe that in some tiny way I helped it come to pass.
Here are the lyrics:
I'd like to buy 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 buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That's the real thing
What the world wants today
Is the real thing
(Repeat Chorus 2)
So [the beard]'s like a pet, but someone else took care of it. You just had to home it.
Yeah. And then when the show ended, it took me awhile to bring myself to cut it.
But I did, eventually, I cut the sides off first and then I just walked around with this humongous, Lebowski-ish goatee that grew to such an absurd length, and then, I mean, I really didn't want to let it go. And then I shaved the mustache off and I just had this chin thing that was like a foot long, and then it was just like, "Okay, what am I doing?"
I think this is the new stages of grief. Stages of Jay's post–Mad Men beard.
It was tough to separate.
Weiner said that Joan was the character who surprised him the most over the run of the series, and not just because she wasn't even designed to be a main character until he met Christina Hendricks. His plan was for her to go through with the abortion, but writer Maria Jacquemetton convinced him to let her continue the pregnancy, because she wouldn't want to miss her chance to have a baby, even though the marriage to Greg was doomed. "She said, 'I think Joan is going to be the one. I think Joan is going to be the single mom.'" Of Joan's pivot into feminism at the end of the series, he said, "I love the fact that it's not philosophical for her. I'm not demeaning feminism. This woman made a practical decision not to take any shit any more."
I wonder if there's any way to measure whether Coke sales went up in a unusual way Monday. I went out and bought the first Coke I'd had in probably 15 years, and I heard the same from a few friends.
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