When I visited Miami ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky this past winter, there was some buzz crackling within the office that Coca-Cola may soon become a new client. There were winks and nods of “stay tuned,” but nothing definite.
But now it looks like CP+B landed what could be Coke’s most important assignment in recent memory: To revive its famous “Hilltop” campaign in which an international cast of everyman hippies gathered to sing the legendary jingle, “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.” Ah yes–polyester bell-bottoms, world harmony, and cold Coca-Cola–could there be any better leitmotif to capture the early 1970s?
CP+B, which made its name on the backs of hot brands such as Ikea, Mini, and Virgin Atlantic, has recently taken on more mainstream clients, most notably Burger King. There too, a mothballed campaign, “Have It Your Way,” was revived mostly to positive results. But so far (or at least what’s been reported), the updating of Coke’s “Hilltop” seems to be veering into some tricky territory, where a bunch of white honkeys are creating a campaign aimed at roughly non-white, “Hip-Hop” audiences. The new lyrics to “Chilltop,” as the campaign was renamed, and which is sung by G. Love (who is quite a good choice, it must be said), have about as much personality as the mahogany table around which they were surely penned: “I’d like to teach the world to chill, take time to stop and smile/I’d like to buy the world a Coke and chill with it a while.”
Yikes. Call me a crank, but what was so inspiring about my visit to CP+B was its intense reverence to originality. Unless it’s done in some mocking, ironic way (say white guys sitting around a conference room table creating ads for Hip-Hoppers), where, may I ask, is there even a kernel of ingenuity in the line, “I’d like to teach the world to chill”? Am I missing something?