Google Recruits Ad Legends To Update Classic Ad Campaigns

Google recruited the creators of ads like Coke’s “Hilltop” and Alka Seltzer’s “I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing,” to update the classics with Google’s digital tools.

Google Recruits Ad Legends To Update  Classic Ad Campaigns

“Bam! Click.”


Harvey Gabor, the McCann Erickson art director who co-created Coke’s “Hilltop” spot in 1971, says these words during a recent presentation to Coke in which he takes the beverage maker’s execs through an updated version of his famous ad. Gabor and a handful of other vintage ad creatives are part of a Google campaign called “Re:Brief”, in which old campaigns are modernized via digital tools.

The campaign, announced March 9 during SXSW in Austin, features re-imagined versions of Coke’s “Hilltop,” Alka-Seltzer’s “I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing,” the “Drive It Like You Hate It” campaign from Volvo, and Avis car rental’s “We Try Harder.” Gabor appears in the campaign along with Amil Gargano, who created the Volvo campaign in 1962, Howie Cohen and Bob Pasqualina, the creative team behind the 1972 Alka-Seltzer campaign, and Paula Green, the copywriter who worked on the Avis campaign in 1962.

Google worked with ad agency Johannes Leonardo and digital shop Grow Interactive on the campaign, which includes a series of videos that show the original ad creators working with Google to update their ideas with technology. Gabor and his Google team eventually come up with an idea that incorporates a banner ad (watch for the Fast Company cameo in the film) and a smart vending machine that can “send” a Coke and a message to people in countries around the world.

“Almost a year ago, we started thinking about what we could do to showcase the ability of online advertising, not just to inform, but to delight and engage an audience,” says Aman Govil, product marketing manager for Google. “We wanted to create an equivalent to a concept car–something that would help push the industry conversation forward, and hopefully inspire. Classic ads offered the perfect sandbox to do this. We picked campaigns based on big ideas that had already proven their ability to connect with people on an emotional level.” Ads chosen, the Google team then tracked down the original creatives who brought the ads to life.

Govil says both the Coke and Volvo campaign recreations were among the most technically challenging, but in different ways. “The basic technology building blocks all exist in the marketplace; what we’ve done for this project is to connect them together in new ways. One of they key challenges, across both campaigns, was finding a way to connect them to real world experiences, with machines and systems that aren’t designed to talk to each other. In the Coca-Cola campaign, this took the form of linking the ads to a special vending machine, also building in a way for people to communicate via high quality video and text messages. For Volvo, we wanted people to feel like they could join Irv on his adventure in real-time, so we integrated the live odometer feed and Google+ interaction.”

Watch the originals and the stories of the Google-assisted updates for Coke and Volvo below. For more, visit the “Re-Brief” site.


About the author

Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Co.Create. She was previously the editor of Advertising Age’s Creativity, covering all things creative in the brand world.