‘Mad Men’: Real Man Behind Coke Commercial Quit Watching Years Ago

"It had become more about the tangled lives of the people and less about the industry"


Jon Hamm as Don Draper in 'Made Men'

Advertising executive Bill Backer

Forer Ad exec Bill Backer conceived the iconic 1971 Coca-Cola “hilltop” commercial.

Not everyone was waiting eagerly for last night’s season finale of MAD MEN.

In fact, Bill Backer — the former exec at the real life McCann Erickson, who created the iconic Coca-Cola ad in the show’s final scene — says he gave up watching after season 2.

“It had become more about the tangled lives of the people and less about the industry they were working in and presenting the ads in ways that was attention-getting, and hopefully uplifting and fun to watch,” he told CNNMoney this morning.

The series finale wrapped up all of the show’s major plotlines — none more important than the fate of hard drinking ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm).

After learning that his former wife has only months to live, Don continues his journey to Los Angeles, where he ends up trapped on a hippie commune.

In the episode’s final moments he is seen participating in a group meditation when an idea appears to strike him.

Cut to one of the most memorable TV commercials of all time.

The spot was actually conceived more than 40 years ago, when Backer found himself stranded in Shannon, Ireland during a trip through Europe.

As he sat in the airport, Backer watched other stranded passengers from various backgrounds bond over bottles of Coca-Cola.

“We were marooned there and it was a confluence of people being flown together from all over the world,” he recalled. “There was a very different mix of people and they got stuck together for several days. Coke was kind of a social catalyst. That was one of the selling points. Let’s have a Coke, break the ice.”

It was at that moment, the story goes, that Backer jotted down some words on a napkin: “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Backer admitted after being told about the way the series ended.

“But now that you’re talking about it, I will pick it up and watch.”