Cute-looking bear cubs help push Coke

PETER YORK ON ADS: No 205: COCA-COLA

Little Drinks generate big themes - colas especially. Worlds singing, New Generations, and a mass of other hygienic initiatives have been helped into half-life by cola advertising. The Coca-Cola Christmas commercial, however, relies solely on the aah factor, but it has a lot of it. Christmas Cola has polar bears, but polar bears who behave more like Andrex puppies than like the dignified creature of Fox's Glacier Mints. And they look amazing - computer creations with convincingly rippling bulk and sway, rather than flat animations or actors in bear suits. The new technology - whatever it is - lets the director realise a traditional Christmas- card scene in an utterly satisfying, rather hyper-real way.

On a starry night in Snowland, two polar-bear cubs push a Christmas tree uphill, to a soundtrack of amiable little grunts. One slides back downhill, coming to rest at Big Daddy Bear's feet. He is wearing (high on Pooh factor, this) a sort of red collar/scarf affair.

Daddy then pushes the tree uphill with the sheer might of his muzzle, while the cub pushes winsomely at Father's enormous flanks. Behind is a wooded slope, a valley village and a gleaming ring of light in the snow - the bear cave? - all sufficiently detailed to realise the ancient form without looking like pastiche.

When the bears stop for a sort of photocall, the bear-cubs drink Coca- Cola, for all the world as if that is what people do outdoors in Snowland. And when the red Coke logo appears in the top right-hand corner of the screen, it makes a nice, crisp, Italian-flag scheme of things, while the soundtrack renders the Coke theme in a jolly, jingly way.

It's a modest enough achievement - new animation that doesn't show off its technological cleverness, well-timed grunts, and some nice detailing. But it's lovely. And it makes the poor old Pepsi Generation stuff look sadder then ever.

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