Whether you were a kid or an adult in the 1990s, the Coca-Cola polar bears represented something special: magic. The polar bears weren’t only an advertising success for the brand, but they represented a technological leap with the state-of-the-art computer animation. When the commercial premiered in February 1993, they became an instant success.
However, the real heartwarming story of the polar bears is that they were inspired by creator Ken Stewart’s own Labrador Retriever, Morgan.
“I always thought Morgan looked like a polar bear … I used to call him the polar bear puppy or the baby polar bear. And so I thought, ‘Wow, polar bear. Coke … cold, refreshing! Great! I have to tie polar bears into this somehow.'”
While the polar bears do look like actual polar bears, in large part thanks to the advanced animation techniques Coca-Cola was pioneering at the time, the bears also bear a striking resemblance to his puppy, Morgan.
The ad became known as “Northern Lights” and was broadcasted during the 1993 Academy Awards where it simply took fans’ breaths away. The simpleness of the message, enhanced by the adorable polar bears, drove home the one idea Coke was searching for: togetherness.
The grueling process of crafting the ad took “four months of 16 people working pretty much full time to create one 30-second spot.”
And thank goodness they strived to create the best spot they could, because there is still something so lovely and simple about polar bears watching the Northern Lights together, enjoying a Coke.