Season’s Greetings, 1970s Coca-Cola Style

As we get closer to Christmas your humble blogger finds himself, from time to time, strolling down a gingerbread scented Memory Lane where The Carpenters Christmas album plays and I unwrap Lite Brite and Stretch Armstrong on a shag carpet in the rec room.

Yes, I’m remembering Christmas in the 70s.

For the next few weeks The Gay Groom will be looking back at Christmas in the 1970s with a series of blogs.  This week I was thinking of a wonderful old television commercial that ran every Christmas throughout the seventies (and into the eighties). The commercial begins with one bright candle shining through the darkness as a choir begins to sing.  Next, we see a happy, overly hopeful-looking girl holding a white candle and singing:

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…

Suddenly, young men and women of all different races, creeds, colors (and fashions) surround the young girl and join in singing the song.  Finally, as the camera pulls back, we see that the candles being held create the image of a huge human Christmas tree (the original commercial would end with the words: “Season’s Greetings from your bottler of Coca-Cola”).

Apparently, world peace was possible – if we would just buy each other a Coke.

Leaving issues of marketing, consumption and commercialism aside for the moment, for me, that shining Coca-Cola Christmas tree made up of beautiful young people (I suppose there is no ugly people in the Coca-Cola Utopia) was an iconic image of Christmas.  And that sappy song can still cause a lump in my throat (also try and put aside for the moment how most of the girls in the commercial seem to resemble Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Louise Van Houten).

But there was something so sweet and innocent about this idea that generosity (and soda, apple trees, honey bees et al) could bring people together in harmony – and, being a young idealist gay boy, I believed it.  For in that Coca-Cola tree I saw the white guy in football jerseys sitting beside the Asian in a kimono who is sitting beside the Native American in beads and braided hair (OK, try and put aside the stereotypes presented in the commercial as well).

And being a little gay boy in the 70s, I did have my favourites – just take a look at the handsome blonde guy wearing the cowboy hat.  I really wanted to share a Coke with him.

So was this commercial just another example of a silly 70s naivety?  Perhaps.  But, I think the idea was (and still is) admirable.

Seasons Greetings from me (and your bottler of Coca-Cola).

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

Xmas 1972: Jeffrey, The Gay Groom, as a little fella. That cardboard Santa Claus behind me is actually a Coca-Cola display ad my father 'found' someplace.

3 Comments

Filed under 70s christmas, Christmas, coca-cola christmas, coke commercial, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay Xmas, gaygroom, seasons greetings coca-cola, teach the world to sing

3 responses to “Season’s Greetings, 1970s Coca-Cola Style

  1. Robert Power

    I remember the impact of the original “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” commercial on this 15 year-old. It was the first “super ad”. Who could ever have imagined a TV jingle becoming a top ten single that sold 12 million copies? I remember the first time I saw it air on TV. As soon as it was over I wanted to see it again, but there was no “rewind” button on the PVR in those days. Every time I heard that song (no matter where I was in the house) I would run to the TV room to watch Coke’s simple solution to world peace sung in perfect harmony by beautiful teens.

    So you can only imagine my delight a couple of years later when they produced this “sequel” for Christmas. A slightly slower version with bells added for a Christmas touch. And kids holding candles instead of bottles of Coke! I thought it was sheer genius! Both versions still give me the warm fuzzies. And I, too, wanted to share a bottle of Coke with the guy in the cowboy hat. Or #32 in the football jersey. Or both.

  2. tdub68

    Ahhhhhhh if only peace and loving one another were as simple as … wait….

    it IS that simple. completely that easy to abandon all prejudice and hate and just accept one other, period.

    and yet, why can we not get that?? especially here in America!

    oh and the guy in the cowboy hat looks a little gay (which is what makes this even better) but he’s not the one i had my eye on ….

    what a sweet post. thanks for the stroll down memory lane. i’m going to play my Carpenter’s Christmas album now.

  3. Love this post Jeffrey.

    Bill and I remember that commercial like it was yesterday. Times certainly were simpler then (or, were they?).

    The Coca-Cola Co has done more culture shaping around Christmas for North American audiences than any other company, ever. Our modern representation of Santa Claus is their creation too.

    I look forward to following your Christmas nostalgia series.

    Mike

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