On the Front Lines with Coca Cola Pt II

vintage Coke ad WWII soldiers illustration

Vintage WWII Coca Cola Ad 1942

During WWII the boys overseas were fighting for Mom, apple pie and a frosty bottle of Coke.

Coca Cola, as much a part of the American Dream as a white picket fence and a home run, has long symbolized the American way of life, no more so than during WWII when Coke created blatantly patriotic themed advertisements. 

WWII Advertising -A Global Blitzkrieg

With the precision used to plan a bombing mission in the South Pacific, Coca Cola calculated their advertising campaign during the War to make sure Coke was seen as vital to wartime morale and essential to Americans and their fighting men.

While the Coca Cola Company was busy boosting the morale of the fighting men, they were simultaneously laying the groundwork for becoming an international symbol of refreshment and solidarity.

War Goes Better With Coke

vintage WWII Coke ad illustration soldiers South Pacific

Vintage Coca Cola Ad 1945 Admiralty Isles

Our fighting men meet up with Coca Cola where its bottled on the spot, Coke boasted in its ads. “Our Coke has been a globe-trotter since way back when”

Coca Cola went to remarkable lengths to make sure their soft drink was never far from the front lines. “Anywhere for a nickel,” Coca Cola promised. “From the jungles of Admiral Islands to the officer clubs on the Riviera.

Wherever the American Army went so did Coca Cola, establishing make-shift bottling plants near the front lines. Thanks to heavy lobbying in Congress, Coke was treated as a wartime necessity and was thus allotted considerably larger sugar rations for their front line military bottling plants than allowed for civilian consumption.

Have a Coke Soldier in Camp 1944 Ad

WWII Cokead illustration A,merican soldier

“From southern camps with their moss hung cypresses to camps near the north woods there one place soldiers can relax- the Post Exchange. There they settle down to shoot the breeze together. Have a Coke they say. Coca Cola is a refreshing reminder of what they left behind.”

 That Extra Something 1943 Ad

WWII Coke 43 SWScan03824

 “When war correspondents say that Coca Cola is the drink of our fighting men you know there is a reason for it”

“One tells how a ranger returned from Dieppe asked for a Coca Cola in preference for anything. Another cables that the main event of the week for the doughboys at a desolate South Pacific outpost was 12 bottles of Coke. We read such things in the paper regularly.”

Have a Coke on a Battleship- 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad battleship illustration sailors 1940s

“Wherever a US  battleship may be, the American way of life goes along…in sports humor, customs and refreshments. So naturally Coca Cola is there too, met with frequently at the ships soda fountain. Have a Coke is a phrase as common abroad a battle wagon as it is ashore.”

How Americans Spread the Holiday Spirit Overseas 1943 Ad

WWII Coke Xmas illustration wwii soldiers

“Your American fighting man loves his lighter moments. Quick to smile, quick to enter the fun, he takes his home ways with him where he goes…makes friends easily. Have a Coke he says to stranger or friend and he spreads the spirit of good will throughout the year.”

The Global High Sign… I’d like to Buy the World a Coke

WWII Coke ad illustration

Have a Coca Cola= Come be blessed and be happy…or how to break the ice in Iceland 1943

Coke was our secret weapon for world peace

Rather than show war-weary soldiers enjoying their product, Coca Cola focused on Cokes ability to bring people and nations together. The ads carried the catchphrases “The global high sign” and introduced American readers to a few foreign phrases.

Set in exotic locals such as Hawaii, , Russia, Newfoundland, and New Zealand ,the ads portrayed grinning  GI’s mixing it up and laughing over Cokes with British, Polish, Soviet and other Allies always with  a caption along the lines “Have a Coke- a way of saying we’re with you.”

The ad men continually touted the drinks status as an American icon “Yes around the globe, Coca Cola stands for the pause that refreshes- it has become a symbol of our way of living.”

But it wasn’t just GI’s for whom Coke was a symbol of the American way. It was a symbol for the native population well. The presence of Coke did more than lift the morale of the troops . It gave the local people in the different countries their first taste of Coca Cola and paved the way for unprecedented worldwide growth after the war.

Sealing Friendships in New Zealand 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad new zealand soldiers south pacific illustration

“Kia Ora, says the New Zealander when he wants to give you his best wishes. It’s a down under way of telling you that you’re a pal and that your welfare is a matter of mutual interest. The American soldier says it another way Have a Coke, says he, and in three words he has made a friend.”

“It’s a custom that has followed the flag from the tropics to the polar regions. It’s a phrase that says “Welcome, neighbor” from Auckland to Albuquerque from New Zealand to New Mexico.’Round the globe , Coca Cola stands for the pause that refreshes- has become the high sign between friendly minded people.”

How Friends Are Made in the RAF 1944 Ad

WWII Coke RAF SW Scan00270

“Have a Coke  is a friendly greeting among RAF flyers back at early dawn from a night mission. It’s a salute among comrades in arms that seals the bonds of friendship in Plymouth England or Plymouth Mass. It’s an offer as welcome on an English airfield as it is in your own living room

How To Get Along in Alaska 1943 Ad

WWII Coke ad Alaska 1943 illustration soldiers eskimos

“The American soldier in Alaska meets up with many things that remind him of home. One of them is Coca Cola.”have a Coke says he to a stranger and in one simple gesture he has made a friend. In 3 words he has said “You and I understand each other.” The pause that refreshes works as well in the Yukon as it does in Youngstown.”

“Coke has become the high sign between kindly minded strangers the symbol of a friendly way of being.”

Have a Coke in Newfoundland 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad Newfoundland illustration soldiers fishermen

“There is an American way to make new friends in Newfoundland. It’s the cheery invitation Have a Coke an old Us custom that is reaching ‘round the world. It says lets be friends reminds Yanks of home.”

“In many lands around the globe Coke has become the symbol of our friendly home ways.”

Allies Enjoying a Friendly Pause 1944 Ad

WWII Coke ad illustration female soldiers WWii

“There’s a friendly phrase that speaks the allied language Its “Have a Coke” Friendliness enters the picture when ice-cold Coke appears. Over tinkling glasses of ice-cold Coke minds meet and hearts are closer together.”

“Coke has become an everyday high sign of friendliness among people of good will.”

Eia ke ola (Heres health)…Have a Coke in Wailuku 1945 Ad

WWII Coke Hawaii 45 illustration soldiers natives

Here’s health is the happy expression of Hawaiian hospitality. Just as friendly is the have a Coke of the army flyer. In these words he says we’re pals


GI’s liberating towns throughout Europe or working side by side with locals in the Philippines felt pride in sharing their favorite drink with their new found friends.”

La Moda Americana ( The American Way)…Have a Coke in Italy 1945 Ad

WWII coke ad  italy  illustration soldiers

“One of the interesting things that impresses people overseas about the American fighting man is his friendliness among his fellows. Everywhere they see Americans bringing with them their customs and home-ways-their own brand of open heartedness. Have a Coke, foreigners hear the GI’s say when he wants to be friendly, and they begin to understand what America means. For in this simple gesture is some of the essence of Main Street and the family fireside.”

“Yes, the custom of the pause that refreshes with ice-cold Coca Cola helps show the world the friendliness of American Ways.”

Yank Friendliness Comes back to Leyte Philippines 45

WWII Coke ad Phillipines illustration American soldiers natives

“Naturally Filipinos thrilled when their Yankee comrades-in-arms came back to the Philippines. Freedom came back with them. Fair play took the place of fear. But also they brought back the old sense of friendliness that America stands for. You find it quickly expressed in the simple phrase have a Coke. There’s no easier or warmer way to say Relax and be yourself. Everywhere the pause that refreshes with ice-cold Coca Cola has become a symbol of good will – an everyday example of how Yankee friendliness follows the flag around the globe.”


Winning minds in Nazi Germany

Drinking Coke was synonymous with fighting the enemies of freedom and democracy.

Yet, despite  patriotic all American Coca Cola’s claim that it was the high sign between like-minded strangers the symbol of friendly way of being no mention was ever made to the fact that Coca Co la was doing business in Nazi Germany. In the midst of their global advertising blitzkrieg, patriotic Coca Cola appeared at Hitler youth rallies as “Coca Cola trucks accompanied the marchers hoping to capture the next generation of Coke customers.

Mach Doch mal Pauss (Come on Take A Break) ….Have a Coke or or winning minds in Nazi Germany was one ad that we would never see.

CocaColinization Post War

Vintage coke ad illustration WWII soldier home

Vintage Coca Cola Ad 1945 Returning WWII Vets

WWII did more than perpetuate an image it also led to Cokes dominance abroad. They created an enormous consumer base throughout the world that would not have been possible without General Eisenhower and the Coca Cola Company’s cooperation working towards bettering the morale of the American fighting man.

After gulping down more than a billion servings of Coke, 11 million veterans returned with a lifelong attachment to the soft drink. But it wasn’t only Americans who got hooked on the sweet elixir.

Many of the bottling plants established overseas during the war continued to operate as non military factories after the war. When the war ended, the coca cola company had 63 overseas bottling plants in operation in venues as far flung as Egypt, Iceland, Iran, West Africa and New Guinea.

If Coca Colas mission was to offer Coke to “whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be,  when you think of refreshment think of an ice-cold Coca Cola”, then  “mission accomplished





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  7. . . . and the troops loved their Cokes. From “A life of a B-25 tail gunner with the 42nd Bombardment Group in the South Pacific”:

    “We received beer and Cokes again today, four beers, three Cokes. Gave beer to Russell. Now have a collection of nine Cokes under my bed. No hard stuff, no drinkee warm beer.” http://waynes-journal.com/2014/02/23/february-24-1944/.

    “Stayed home from the show tonight and smoked, ate candy and drank Cokes while writing a “letter to Bonnie. She’s the dearest thing to me in all the world.” http://waynes-journal.com/2014/06/28/june-29-1944/.


  8. Pingback: Coca Cola: A Nice, Cold Bottle of America | Leila Villacorta

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