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Health Advocates Remake Famous "Hilltop" Ad

It’s Time to Change the Tune on Soda, Says CSPI

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Shot taken from ad remake

Real people suffering from diabetes, tooth decay, weight gain, and other diseases related to soda consumption are starring in a remake of Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” ad. The new video is health advocates’ latest salvo in their campaign to reduce the incidence of soda-related disease in America and around the world.

“Hilltop” first aired in 1971 and gained new cultural relevancy in the season finale of “Mad Men” on AMC. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” sang the original cast. “I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company.” But according to the nonprofit health advocacy organization behind the new video, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it’s time to change the tune. And, as it happens, the lyrics.

“For the past 45 years, Coca-Cola and other makers of sugar drinks have used the most sophisticated and manipulative advertising techniques to convince children and adults alike that a disease-promoting drink will make them feel warm and fuzzy inside,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “It’s a multi-billion-dollar brainwashing campaign designed to distract us away from our diabetes with happy thoughts. We thought it was time to change the tune.”

Soda and other sugary drinks are the leading source of calories in the American diet, and raise one’s risks of diabetes, tooth decay, and weight gain—conditions experienced by the Denver-area residents who participated in the film.

“Soda is just one of several contributors to diet-related disease, but it’s a major one,” said Dr. Jeffry Gerber, a Denver-area physician who appeared in the film. “As a physician who asks all of my patients about the foods and drinks they choose, I see the connection between soda consumption and chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity every day of the week. It’s hard to ask patients to practice moderation when all of the advertising, marketing, and overall ubiquity of soda rewires people to overconsume sugary drinks.”

The film was produced by Scott McDonald and Gavin Anstey of the Lumenati agency, and was written by Mike Howard of Daughters & Howard. Alex Bogusky, formerly of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, provided overall creative direction. Bogusky also served as executive creative director for The Real Bears, CSPI’s 2012 short film that showed an animated family of polar bears suffering the consequences of soda-related disease. Coca-Cola called it “irresponsible and the usual grandstanding from CSPI,” while Mark Bittman of the New York Times called it “Depressing, touching, and effective.”

CSPI is providing Spanish, Portuguese, French, Hindi, and Mandarin translations of the lyrics used in the new film as a resource for health advocates around the world, where Coke and Pepsi are investing billions of dollars a year to promote the consumption of their products.

Change the Tune

  • Agency: Lumenati
  • Executive Creative Director: Alex Bogusky
  • Writer: Michael Howard
  • Executive Producer: Gavin Anstey
  • Creative Director: Scott McDonald
  • Director of Photography: Brad Conner
  • Director of Audio: Connor Birch
  • Lead Editor/Assistant DP: Frederick Remington
  • Producer: Andrew Aldrich
  • Assistant Audio: Jeff Cormack
  • Music and Sound: Play Plus Record
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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).