Press contacts: Library of Congress: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189, Jill Brett (202) 707-2905
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For release: November 29, 2000
The Coca-Cola Company Donates 50 Years of Television Commercials Reflecting World Culture To the Library of Congress
20,000 Ads Are Largest Gift of Corporate Archives in Library's History
The Library of Congress today announced that The Coca-Cola Company, celebrating its 50th anniversary of television advertising, is donating its entire collection of historic television commercials as part of the Library's Bicentennial Gifts to the Nation program. The donation, which will eventually exceed 20,000 television ads, represents the largest donation of corporate advertising in the Library's 200-year history.
The Library of Congress, the world's largest library, has the largest and most comprehensive collection of American and internationally produced films and television broadcasts in the world.
The Gifts to the Nation program encourages benefactors to donate rare and important acquisitions to the Library's national collection. Donations from more than 30 countries and private donors range from a Beethoven letter to a collection of Pablo Picasso etchings. During its Bicentennial year, the Library has undertaken to enrich its universal collections -- 120 million items in 460 languages -- to reflect Librarian of Congress James H. Billington's commitments to international cultural understanding and the use of technology to provide access to historical information in a digital age.
"From our earliest days as a Republic, when land sales and stagecoach schedules were promoted, advertising has been a vibrant activity in America," said Dr. Billington. "This gift from Coca-Cola will enrich the nation's largest, most diverse collection of broadcast advertisements, dating from the 1940s, as well as our substantial collection of foreign-produced film and television broadcasts."
The Coca-Cola gift reflects five decades of local cultures around the world and will provide an extraordinary resource to researchers and historians of popular culture. The collection will be cataloged and digitized and eventually made accessible online.
Doug Daft, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "The Coca-Cola Company is excited and proud to be making this gift to the Library of Congress and the world. Throughout history, people everywhere have built relationships with each other by telling stories and sharing experiences. For the past 115 years, Coca-Cola has become an integral part of peoples' lives by helping to tell these stories.
"This collection of Coca-Cola's broadcast advertising is a mirror of the stories of the past half-century. It reflects the close relationships with people that Coca-Cola has forged. It also provides a powerful glimpse into the development of popular culture that ultimately helps us better understand ourselves and our future," he added.
The gift will be conveyed to the Library over the next three to five years. The collection will cover the early 1950s to the present and will include both U.S. and international ads, from the Company's portfolio of brands. Beginning November 29 the Library of Congress Web site (www.loc.gov) will include a preview of the collection featuring historical information and images of Coca-Cola television advertising.
A highlight of the collection is a compilation of outtakes from the famous "Hilltop" commercial of 1971, showing various scenes and actors that did not appear in the final version. Other spots include "Mean Joe Greene" (a television commercial that was so popular it spurred its own made-for-TV movie), the first "Polar Bear" spot, some experimental color television ads from 1964, some early black-and-white ads from The D'Arcy Agency in 1953 and contemporary international ads from Malaysia, Tunisia and Japan.
The Coca-Cola Company's gift to the Library, which will be announced tonight at an invitational reception and program in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, is expected to be continual, with additions being made to the collection on a regular basis as new advertising is produced.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress includes the Congressional Research Service, the nation's largest think tank for Congress; the Copyright Office of the United States, and a National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. It is the world's largest library, containing more than 120 million items in nearly every language and format. Its collections include the papers of 23 presidents and the papers of eminent Americans such as Booker T. Washington, Walt Whitman, Irving Berlin, Susan B. Anthony and Bob Hope. Other treasures include the first printed book in the Western world, early baseball cards, historic comic and cook books, and millions of maps and atlases, photographs, posters, microfilms, rare books and music manuscripts. The Library also is home to the world's most comprehensive collection of films and television broadcast materials in the world. It is one of the world's leading providers of free high-quality content on the Internet. Its Website handled 1 billion electronic transactions last year and offers 5 million items of American history and culture online through its National Digital Library Program.
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company and is the leading producer and marketer of soft drinks. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's best- known brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite. Through the world's largest distribution system, consumers in nearly 200 countries enjoy the Company's products at a rate of more than 1 billion servings each day.
Color stills from select Coca-Cola commercials to accompany this story are available and can be retrieved in digital form by media without charge from Wieck Photo Database at 972-392-0888 or www.wieck.com (external link).
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