The year is 1938 and Coca‑Cola is rolling off the factory line.
“You guys are making so much, you might even break a sweat,” says the delivery driver as he walks inside.
“Turn it up, Jack,” laughs the factory worker as he hands off a case of Coca‑Cola.
This scene is the first in a locally-produced television commercial celebrating 80 years of Coca‑Cola being made and shared down under.
“Many Australians assume that Coca‑Cola drinks are shipped all the way from the US to our shores,” said Lucie Austin, marketing director for Coca‑Cola South Pacific.
“We want to break this myth by sharing the stories of everyday Australians connected through Coca‑Cola, who have made, bottled, and enjoyed the world’s greatest drink right in their backyard, for 80 years.”
Take a tour behind the scenes on set and get a glimpse into what it takes to make a television commercial, from initial idea and brief, to scouting locations and securing props and crew.
1. Have a great story
So you want to make a great commercial? You have to have a good story.
“Coca‑Cola has long been a part of the fabric of Australian culture and community,” said Christine Black, Coca‑Cola Australia’s director of public affairs, communication and sustainability.
“From the yo-yo craze of the 60s and 70s, the Surfabout competitions of the 80s, sponsorship of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, our backing of the NRL and AFL to more recently, our proud support for marriage equality with limited-edition ‘Love’ cans.”
“What we really wanted to tap into is how do we bring to life the idea that Coca‑Cola is local. It has been prepared, bottled, distributed, sold and shared amongst friends and family in Australia for 80 years,” Christine said.
2. Find a great location and make it your own
Once you’ve got your story nailed down, you have to find a great place to shoot.
For Brilliant Films director Steve Back, the far north coast of New South Wales was a perfect fit. Filming locations included Evans Corner Store in Casino, the nearby Richmond Dairies complex, a ‘music festival’ at Myocum and scenes at Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club.
“We were after very authentic Australian architecture,” Steve said. “The corner shop we found, the Richmond Dairy which we're turning into a Coke factory, just all worked for us.”
Once your location is sorted, it has to look realistic and authentic, especially when recreating different periods of history. It’s the role of Jessie White, senior account director, McCann Sydney to coordinate between her client, in this case Coca‑Cola, and the rest of the project.
For this particular shoot, Jessie also coordinated the loan of original Coca‑Cola merchandise, bottles and other memorabilia from passionate collectors across Australia.
Sharp eyes can see the Georgia green bottles in the 1940s scene, as opposed to the clear glass bottles in the modern scenes; the replica adverts painted on the side of the 1960s corner store; “It’s the real thing” slogan in the 1970s scenes and the original Diet Coke cans from the 1980s beach party. If you’re quick you can even see topical headlines from the news of the day.
3. Gather a great crew
More than 30 crew on set plus more than 70 actors shot for almost a week to create 60, 30 and 15 second versions of the commercial.
For art director Chris Stewart, seeing his vision come to life on the screen is unreal. It’s his job to make sure everything looks perfect on screen, from colours and costumes to actors and props. Before the shoot days, he works with the team to capture the look and feel of the commercial in drawn storyboards.
“This is the part I do my job for, being on set and actually capturing the film and seeing it come to life. You're doing a lot of hours of drawing and reframing things, but it's not until you're here that you actually go, "You know what? That completely doesn't work," and looking at other ways,” Chris said.
4. Make some magic!
There’s always a bit of magic in the air on set. Lots of talent and creative energy work together to create a great story on the screen.
“I love seeing the magic on the day that comes out. Someone delivers a line a bit more ad-libbed or throws in something that work for them and all of a sudden you've got a bit of magic. For me, that’s the most enjoyable part of it,” said Chris.
For Jessie, being on set and seeing the magic happen is exhilarating. “I think you get a bit of an adrenaline rush, and it's just nice to feel like you're actually part of something big,” she said.
“Seeing that heritage really come to life, knowing that Coke as a brand has actually been part of the Australian history and culture for 80 years is quite amazing.”
From humble beginnings in a single Sydney factory, Coca‑Cola has been made and shared down under for more than 80 years. Find out more about who we are.
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