PGW #33- Harmony

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with a glad heart at the end of this year 2012 that I bring to you my last Peace, Good Will post.  Some days it was easy to find positive stories, pictures, music to bring to the table.  Other days it wasn’t so easy.  Life is full of ups and downs, meetings and partings, joy and sadness.  “That is the way of it.

Thank you all for your comments and likes.  I hope you found something positive to take with you from my words.  I have found many positives from many of you in your blogs, and I thank you for that, too.

When I was little, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the world was a different place.  There were revolutions in ideas about the fabric of our lives.  And there was war.  Amidst all the turmoil, some people realised we needed to make changes, needed to regain some of the peace that we were losing.  In a time of hippies and protests, an unlikely source came forward with an idea that had an impact on society.  Believe it or not, this commercial, this song, the vision of all of these people standing together “in harmony” made people listen and think and respond.

I present to you one of my favourite bits of music and video for as long as I can remember.  May it strike a chord in your hearts.  May the world regain the tune.


Many blessings, much joy and peace, health and safety to you all, and to the world.


“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. Bill 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 responded, “Okay, that sounds good. Let’s write that and I’ll show you how Coke fits right into the concept.”

Working through the night, they crafted the song and, within a few days, Davis produced “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” along with two other commercials he wrote with Backer, Cook and Greenaway for The New Seekers. On February 12, 1971, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was shipped to radio stations around America. While some of the feedback from the Coca-Cola bottlers was not encouraging, many of Billy Davis’s DJ friends from his record business career began to call him. They were saying things like, “I’m getting requests to play your commercial like it was a hit record” and “You should record it as a record.”

Bill Backer put his creative team to work to come up with a visual concept for “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” Out of the many creative ideas, the one that stood out was the one called “The First United Chorus of the World” created by art director Harvey Gabor. This concept featured young people all around the world singing together on a hillside. Backer presented the storyboards to The Coca-Cola Company and Coke advertising manager Ike Herbert approved…it.

Five hundred young people were hired for the chorus from embassies and schools in Rome.

“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was released in the U.S. in July 1971 and immediately struck a responsive chord. The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers received more than 100,000 letters about the commercial. Many listeners called radio stations begging to hear it.

The Coca-Cola Company donated the first $80,000 in royalties earned from the song by writers and publishers to UNICEF under an agreement with the writers.

“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” has had a lasting connection with the public. The commercial has consistently been voted one of the best of all time and the sheet music continues to sell today. The song version is being sung in school glee clubs and church choirs and played by high school bands all over the world. Thirty years after Bill Backer was stranded by fog, Coca-Cola is still more than a beverage. It is a common connection between the people of the world.


10 thoughts on “PGW #33- Harmony

  1. Hey Raven, That was so awesome. Loved the video. Thanks so much for your kind words and support. I hope you have a totally fabulous New Year filled with many adventures. Cheers.

  2. WOW! I love it! Thank you for flying my back to my youth in the 70’s. I adore this song and the way they show people from all over the world. This, although a commercial, is still very timely for our times. May we have peace!
    Thanks again for sharing this amazing story. 🙂
    Cheers, Gina

  3. I’ve been thinking about this commercial recently in relation to a group called Bloggers for Peace. Your post would make a wonderful addition to our cause. Please come by and check us out. You can find a link on Professions of Peace. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  4. Pingback: Woo Hoo! | Blog It or Lose It!

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