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Bill Backer (1926 - 2016)

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Bill Backer (1926 - 2016)

Bill Backer, a former advertising executive who conceived of the groundbreaking 1971 Coca-Cola television commercial titled “Buy the World a Coke,” died May 13 in Warrenton, Virginia. He was 89.

Backer was the mind behind the successful advertising slogan, “Things go better with Coke.” He also helped persuade television viewers that Lite Beer from Miller was “everything you ever wanted in a beer, and less,” and that the beer’s quaffers downed the suds when it was “Miller Time.”

But it was the iconic “peace, hope and love” television ad for Coca-Cola for which Backer was known best. The commercial shows a multicultural group singing on a hill, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. It’s the real thing. What the world wants today.” The commercial ends with a scrolled-up statement:

“On a hilltop in Italy, we assembled young people from all over the world to bring you the message from Coca-Cola bottlers all over the world. It’s the real thing. Coke.”

The ad’s popularity prompted groups the New Seekers as well as the Hillside Singers to record the jingle “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” as a full-length song but without any references to Coke.

Backer, who was born June 9, 1926, was raised in Charleston, South Carolina. He served two years in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Yale University in 1950.

In 1999, Advertising Age listed Backer among its list of the top 100 players in advertising history.

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