The Coca-Cola polar bear mascot was strongly associated with the brand for a long time. But do you know the history behind the arctic bears being used in advertisements for the Coca-Cola company? The history of the Coca-Cola polar bear is actually not as lengthy as you might expect, though it does have some interesting twists and turns.
Coca-Cola's Polar Bears
Coca-Cola first featured a polar bear in a print advertisement for the French market in 1922, according to the Ad Mascot Wiki. In it, the first polar bear used in the Atlanta-based company's ads is seen "squirting cola from a bottle into the mouth of a thirsty sun."
But the use of polar bears in Coke commercials and ads didn't become more widespread until 1993, when they became mascots for the Always Coca-Cola campaign in a television ad called "Northern Lights," according to the World of Coca-Cola website. In it, a group of polar bears stops to watch the aurora borealis. It ends with a shot of one a bear holding a Coca-Cola bottle, the Ad Mascot wiki notes.
To mark the 20th anniversary of their appearance, the Coca-Cola brand brought back the bears as part of the "Open Happiness" campaign in 2013. In one of the ads, "Snowbear", a family of polar bears is shown making a bear from snow, but they're not "complete" until a cub in the group suggests adding a bottle cap nose and a bottle of Coke. Cute! In another, a puffin has trouble opening a bottle of Coca-Cola, and some bears help and open the bottle as well as giving it a straw to drink it to boot.
In 2011, Coca-Cola released limited-edition cans featuring polar bears to try to raise awareness about decreasing polar bear populations, according to Distractify. There have been other ads since they became mascots in the early 90s, and while they don't seem as heavily used in TV spots and other advertisements these days, you can still occasionally see polar bears popping up on Coke products and merch.