The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”
The whole world. Even the make-believe world of “Mad Men.”
It took me a while, but I finally tracked down Westport’s real-life connection with the make-believe Don Draper.
Thanks to the interwebs, everyone who wants to know now does know that Bill Backer, creative director on the Coca-Cola account at McCann-Erickson, scribbled “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” on a napkin after his London flight was diverted to Shannon, Ireland.
And — 44 years after the fact — once again the New Seekers’ song has burrowed its way into our brain.
But few folks remember that it was McCann-Erickson art director Harvey Gabor’s idea to bring 500 multi-colored, joyful, blue jeans-and-dashiki-and-sari-clad, Coked-out faces onto an Italian hillside, for a phenomenally expensive (at the time) $250,000-plus shoot. Without that visual, the song — and commercial — would have been about as memorable as anything Pepsi did at the time.
And fewer still know that Harvey Gabor was — ta da! — a Westporter. (Okay, he only lived here from 1983 to ’91 — working for a local agency that no longer exists — but this is still a great story.)
Though the “Hilltop” ad is a classic, it took a ton of work. Bad weather — first in London, then in the new site of Rome — caused frustrating delays. Gabor had to find a new “lead female” (a British governess pushing a baby carriage in the Piazza Navona). Some of the best shots came as his crew dodged power and telephone lines.
Gabor — who is now 81 years old, retired and living with his wife Barbara in Michigan — went on to win 4 gold medals, 5 Clios and over 100 certificate awards for print and TV ads.
The “Hilltop” commercial, meanwhile, has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame
It’s the real thing.
Click below for a fascinating video of Harvey Gabor visiting — and talking with, teaching at and learning from — Google’s New York headquarters, on an updated Coke campaign:
(For Harvey Gabor’s website — including information about his book Peeing With David Ogilvy, click here. For the official Coca-Cola version of the making of the ad — including great details like how Harvey discovered the lead female role pushing a baby carriage — click here. Hat tip: Neil Brickley)