Share a Coke and a Song

Memories of the Phonograph


The "Canned Music" Coke 2016 Advertising campaign "Share a Coke and a Song" by Doug Boilesen


For decades a popular culture practice for couples, friends or families has been to designate a song as an "Our Song" or an "Our Tune" when that song has a special memory associated with an event, a place or a time.

Crosley Radio-Phonograph Ad, 1945


In 2016, Coca-Cola implemented a marketing campaign based on the premise that music strikes emotional chords and is often part of special moments. Their promotional idea was to stamp lyrics from popular songs on its Coke cans and set "the summer to music" with the lyrics on those cans intended to inspire and create special moments for those who share a Coke.

"Song lyrics strike an emotional chord in people, capturing what we are feeling while helping us express what we want to say,” said Joe Belliotti, head of global music marketing at Coca-Cola North America. (1)

"We’re setting the summer to music to inspire and connect fans through the special moments that are created when they share a Coke," he added.

In the world of advertising, of course, music is used all the time to promote products and make associations with lyrics and songs.

As a Friend of the Phonograph, however, I see this more as an attempt to create a pseudo 'Our Song' event with Coke's calculation going something like this: 1 Share a Coke with someone, + 2 Read song lyrics line on the Coke can, + 3 Feel the emotional chord from the lyrics, + 4 Say something that captures what you are feeling since the song is "capturing what we are feeling while helping us express what we want to say = Grand Total "a special moment."

Can Coke actually create an "Our Song" moment. I don't think so. I think the stamping of lyrics of music on cans of Coke, however, does add new meaning to what O. Henry and John Phillip Sousa called "canned music."

In O. Henry's 1904 story "The Phonograph and the Graft" "canned music" was the basis for the planned graft of going to South America to take advantage of the "Latins." And why would the "Latins" be such an easy sell? Because, as Henry Horsecollar explained, they possess the "artistic temperament...yearn for music, color and gaiety," give their "wampum" to the "hand-organ man" and will easily give their money to purchase phonographs and "canned music."


Can an advertising campaign to "share a Coke and a Song' make memorable moments for Coke drinkers?

Does a wedding become more meaningful if is also includes sharing a coke?

Coke's answer to both questions is apparently yes because the "Coke and a Song" a.k.a. "Lyrics on a Coke Can" campaign is yet another iteration from Coke's advertising playbook for how to "Share a Coke and Share the Magic" and "Make Every Moment Memorable" with a Coke.

Here's how Coke described its 2020 advertising effort where consumers could order customized Coke bottles and "make the occasion special":

Whether you're celebrating a birthday, watching the big game, or toasting the newlyweds, custom bottles make the occasion special. Personalize your bottles of Coke, Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar with a name or phrase, or choose custom designs like team logos, Greek letters, eSports artwork and more!


Adding song lyrics to Coke cans and customizing Coke bottle labels are different chapters in Coke's Advertising Book. But it's really the same 'sell' that sharing a Coke can make the moment special. If O. Henry was the author of such a book would he have named it "Coke and the Graft"?


But Coke is a consumer product and selling Coke is its business. "Canned" Music in this case is part of that 'sell' and Coke's advertising will use whatever it thinks will "Make Every Moment Memorable" with a Coke.

So it's business as usual.

Advertising and Coke.

"It's the Real Thing: Canned music - Share a Coke and have a Special Moment Connection."


Coke Custom Coke Bottles, 2020




Share a Coca-Cola with a friend...who can resist their invitation to be happy? Coca-Cola 1953





Note: I first read about this advertising campaign "Share a Coke and a Song" as it was reported by Rebecca Stewart in "The Drum" March 31, 2016.