The Real Thing
Timber, Coca-Cola bottles, nails, plasma screen
2400 x 1680 x 1210 mm
2016

This installation features the groundbreaking 1971 Hilltop television commercial for Coca-Cola. Hilltop cost $250 000.00 to make, an unheard of price then for an advertisement, and features a song Buy the World a Coke portraying a positive message of hope and love, sung by a multicultural collection of teenagers from all over the world standing on a hill together.  At the time the original commercial was made, in 1971, there were exactly half the number of human beings on the planet as there are today (3.7 billion people, 1971 / 7.4 billion people, 2016). 

The song Buy the World a Coke became so popular that it was re-recorded as I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing by The New Seekers as a full-length song, dropping references to Coca-Cola, and went on to became a hit record in the US and the UK. Updated versions of the Hilltop commercial have been produced and aired in 1976, 1991, 1996, 2006, 2010 and 2011. In 2005, ITV ranked the advertisement 10th in their list of the greatest 100 advertisements of all time, and in 2007, Campaign magazine called it "one of the best-loved and most influential ads in television history”.

In 1976 South Africa began public television broadcasting and Coca-Cola's Hilltop commercial was scheduled to air, but the then South African apartheid government asked for a version of the commercial without black actors. Coca-Cola refused their request, with the company reducing their investment in the country that year and by the late 1970s sold their direct holdings in South Africa altogether.