"Hilltop" hero: a tribute to Bill Backer

11:12 AM, 21 June 2016

How significant is Bill Backer?

Backer's iconic work for brands like Miller Lite, Campbell's Soup and Lowenbrau showcased his ability to find ideas that could surpass typical marketing efforts and connect real feelings with brands. And of course he was the inspiration behind the lead character, Don Draper, in AMC's critically acclaimed Mad Men.

But it was "Hilltop" for which he most famous, an idea spawned by a flight delay at Ireland's Shannon airport. Initially frustrated at their predicament, passengers then started chatting over coffee or cola and laughing at their shared experience. Suddenly, the fizzy drink was "not as it was originally designed to be -- but as a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples", he wrote.

At a time when a re-escalation of the Vietnam war meant global tensions were rising, the bringing together of men and women from across the planet to sing about peace and harmony was seen as both a risk and a stroke of genius. It focused on universal human emotions rather than the product and problem solving. This was completely different.

Relive a little advertising history here:

Can brands recapture the magic of Backer's influential work? Or should we just enjoy the simplicity of the time and move on? All feedback, queries, and opinions are welcomed to lindsay@anza.co.nz

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