Coke 'classic'

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Wartime cola advertisement set on Newfoundland wharf

Not too long ago, John Gushue linked in his blog to one of those vintage Coke ads from the gold old days'. (His real point was what happens to your body when you sip a cola.)

But that image grabbed my attention, as I had just recently acquired an original classic' Coke ad myself, one that appeared internationally but had a rare local angle. (Click on the image below to see it in full size.)

The ad depicts American servicemen on a wharf, handing a bottle of Coke to some Newfoundland fishermen. The fishermen seem to be attracted to the offer of free Coke like bees to honey. The details in the ad seem reasonably accurate, with the possible exception of the flat-bottomed punt on the right I can't see this getting past the end of the wharf without flipping over.

The headline reads: Have a "Coke" = How are things goin'?

Apparently, it's an awkward attempt to play with the local dialect, though "How are things goin'?" sounds pretty generic to me. (Then again, I prefer it to Long may yer big jib draw,' a hackneyed saying that I have never heard spoken by locals.)

The ad is dated 1944, not long before the end of World War II. The body text says:

There's an American way to make new-found friends in Newfoundland. It's the cheery invitation Have a "Coke" - an old U.S. custom that is reaching round the world. It says Let's be friends - reminds Yanks of home. In many lands around the globe, Coca-Cola stands for the pause that refreshes, - has become a symbol of our friendly home-ways. So Coca-Cola belongs in your home too ice-cold and ready in the refrigerator. Get a supply today.

Our fighting men meet up with Coca-Cola many places overseas. Coca-Cola has been a globe-trotter "since way back when". Even with war, Coca-Cola today is being bottled right on the spot in over 35 allied and neutral nations.

It's not such a surprise that Newfoundland was highlighted, given the prominent role this province played during wartime. Though I do wonder if they include us in that "overseas" remark; surely they knew we were on the same continent.

The ad is an original, not a reproduction - there is an ad for Union Carbide on the other side of the page, which is printed on a heavy cover-grade stock.

I purchased the ad from Heritage Islands Inc. Proprietor Russell Floren couldn't be sure, but he thinks it originally appeared in National Geographic magazine. That's how it looks to me too.

If anybody else has some neat Newfoundland ads, especially old ones like this, please let me know, or, better yet, post a link.

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  • W
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Well, Newfoundland IS surrounded by water. But I think ''overseas'' also had a specific technical meaning for administrative purposes, and Newfoundland was ''overseas'' within that definition.