The Coca-Cola polar bears have sporadically appeared in many adverts for Coca-Cola since 1993, usually around Christmas. Coca-Cola first featured a polar bear in a French print advert in 1922, shown squirting cola from a bottle into the mouth of a thirsty sun. Since then, polar bears have occasionally appeared in advertisements for Coca-Cola, but were only used as mascots after 1993. The first polar bear TV adverts were designed by Rhythm & Hues.
The polar bears have crossed over into three other Coca-Cola advertising campaigns - the then-current "Always Coca-Cola" campaign, the annual Santa Claus campaign and the "Open Happiness" campaign.
Use in advertising
Creator Ken Stewart got the idea for the polar bears from his Labrador Retriever, which reminded him of a polar bear as a puppy. Stewart got Los Angeles-based visual studio Rhythm & Hues to animate the first advert using computer animation. The ad was storyboarded by illustrator Eugene Yelchin.
The first advert featuring the polar bears was "Northern Lights" in 1993. The ad shows several polar bears sitting down to watch the aurora borealis. Another bear walks in and joins the rest. The lights then appear in the sky and the bears open bottles of Coca-Cola to drink. The ad ends with a face shot of a bear holding a bottle. This advert was animated by Rhythm & Hues, who animated most of the adverts.
The bears were brought back for a new campaign running as part of the "Open Happiness" campaign in 2013 to mark their 20th anniversary. Two new adverts, "Snowbear" and "Puffin", were produced by Animal Logic. In "Snowbear", a bear family build a bear from snow, which they feel is incomplete until a cub suggests to add a bottle cap nose and a Coca-Cola bottle. In "Puffin", a puffin struggles to open a bottle of Coca-Cola. The bears help out by opening the bottle and giving it a straw to drink the cola. Film director Ridley Scott produced a computer-animated seven-minute short film with Animal Logic featuring the polar bears for Coca-Cola. The film shows a family of polar bears on their journey across the Arctic tundra.
The polar bear was adapted into a costume character for public appearances by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.