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Lights, Camera, Inspire Action: NatGeo, Coca-Cola Collaborate on Hit Documentary Series

By:  Jay Moye Jul 1, 2013

Coca-Cola and NatGeo teamed up with renowned Latin American filmmakers to produce Viviendo Positivamente (Living Positively), a series of four documentaries profiling real-life heroes who have overcome challenges to make an impact on their communities and the world at large.

Viviendo Positivamente premiered in September 2012 on NatGeo, airing in 19 countries across Latin America. The stories delivered strong prime-time ratings and generated positive reviews from critics and fans alike, attracting more viewers with each episode and building a passionate community of followers on Facebook.

Each episode focuses on a different cause – from creating employment and educational opportunities, to promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, to recycling, to sustainable agriculture. The people and projects showcased in the films are based in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico and Peru, and all are supported by Coca-Cola.

In January 2012, Coca-Cola approached NatGeo with the idea for a series highlighting the remarkable people behind its Live Positively platform. The two companies – which embrace the same values and share a passion for sustainable development, environmental preservation and the power of people-driven storytelling to promote a better world – clicked immediately.

“The NatGeo team understood that we were not interested in buying media or producing a commercial,” says Mariano Moro, senior integrated marketing communications manager, Coca-Cola Latin America. “We wanted to form a 50/50 partnership and create content together, and they got that. We had the same vision for the project.”

Coca-Cola presented NatGeo with 20 stories to review. The network hired an art director and sent production crews to scout shooting locations and interview subjects before narrowing down the list to eight.

“We found in each protagonist a powerful human and social value that deserved to be documented and shared,” says Fernando Semenzato, vice president of content, Fox International. “They were beautiful, humble people – from a lady in Argentina working to get water into schools, to a teen in Colombia who created a football league to keep young people away from crime, to a woman in Peru with high blood pressure and high cholesterol who started working out and is now running marathons at age 68.”

The collaborative project transcended the transactional nature of most brand/broadcaster partnerships. “Coke let us do what we needed to do and gave us the freedom to document these wonderful stories,” Semenzato adds. “They said, ‘You guys know television and we know brands.’ They let us be, and that’s why the project worked so well.”

Each episode was directed by a renowned Latin American filmmaker: Kátia Lund (City of God) from Brazil, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro) from Mexico, Natalia Smirnoff (Puzzle) from Argentina, and Ciro Guerra (The Wandering Shadows) from Colombia.

“We didn’t know what we were going to see when the cameras rolled, but on that first day in Peru, we were amazed,” Semenzato adds. “I get to work with famous actors, musicians and other celebrities in my job, but the first time I’ve gotten chills was when I stood next to the young man from Colombia who, together with Coca-Cola, transformed his community.”

Season 2 will premiere this fall. While the first set of films highlighted people who are helping others with the support of Coca-Cola, the second season will invite viewers across Latin American to get involved, too.

“We're saying, ‘now it’s your turn to do more than just watch,’” said Moro, calling the series the highlight of his career. “We hope to complete the circle inspired by what we started last season.”

Watch the four episodes here: