I guessed wrong.
The girl holding the world-famous Coke bottle in the photo was the spitting image of Ana, but it was not her. It was actually her mom, some 48 years earlier, in 1962. We toyed with the idea of re-creating the snapshot – this time with Ana – in Mexico where it was originally taken.
Ana flew back to Mexico, and I ultimately assumed the idea would run the course of millions of ideas concocted on a daily basis that never see fruition. However, the question of why she had this photo in Atlanta still intrigued me.
'That Was Me, and Now It's Her'Two years later, when Ana took a role in Atlanta in Coke's Global Marketing Capabilities Department, I finally decided to satisfy my curiosity about the photo. As it turns out, Ana’s mom, Iza María Ríos Guzmán, gave her the photo when she started as an intern with Coca-Cola in Mexico City in 2008 with the simple comment: “Look what I found! I want you to have this.”
“I brought it to my cube in Mexico, and it just has been with me throughout my entire career,” Ana mentioned while chronicling the places the photo has traveled with her on work trips – including China, India, London, Berlin, Paris and Milan. “It's like a lucky charm.”
For Ana’s mom, the picture represents Coca-Cola throughout time. “That was me, and now it’s her,” she said.
The Original PhotoThe 1962 photo was taken by Mrs. Ríos’ beloved grandfather, professional photographer Francisco Guzman, as a mock-up to include in his portfolio. The image was shot in Monterrey, Mexico, in front of her grandfather’s car, which she and all of her brothers and sisters would often pile into. She believes her grandfather had hoped to use the photo in a proposal for the marketing department at Coca-Cola Mexico. She remembers her grandfather very casually saying, “Oh, can you just stand here?” and being happy to have a Coke and a smile!
Mrs. Ríos later mentioned that she loves the beautiful curves of the Coke bottle. “It has a very feminine form,” she stated. Growing up in Monterrey – one of the locales of the world where Coke is most loved – Coca-Cola bottles were delivered directly to her house.
A 'Mom' Before Becoming a Mom
She moved the entire family back to Monterrey from Mexico City, started working as a bank legal archivist, and saw to it that all of her siblings earned a professional degree, even if she was not able to herself.
“For me, it is an inspiration,” Ana remarked about her mom’s story. “She is a role model and a very strong person. She went through a lot, but became very successful against all odds… she did a very good job.”
Re-Creating the PhotoWe decided that the 100th Anniversary of the Coke bottle was the perfect occasion to re-create the photo, and only later discovered that it was nearly exactly five years – to the month – after I first saw the photo that we did the shoot.
Ana selected just the right sweater and just the right Mexican Coca-Cola bottle to ensure that the 100-year-old design was perfectly situated, just as it was in the 1962 black-and-white photo.
Photo by Marc Andrew Stephens/Makeup by Ingrid Valencia Strurgies
I would say so, as the FaceTime interview appeared to be a virtual looking glass as Ana and her mom each held glass Coca-Cola bottles as they shared their memories. For Ana, the memories are of her mom. But for her mom, the memories are of her grandfather.
Mrs. Ríos declared, “My grandfather would be so proud that you are working for Coke and that his picture has finally made it to Coke!” After viewing a few rough shots of the photo re-creation via text message, she sent a reply via text to Ana, whom she calls her “sol” (sun) and her “energia” (energy).
The reply read: “This is fabulous... you look like me! The same smile! I love it! Mom” (with a number of happy face emojis as only a mom who has discovered the joys of texting could send).
Ana has a Mother’s Day tradition of sending violets to her mom, who in turn tries to keep them alive until the next batch arrives the following year. In addition to the violets this year, she is sharing this Coca-Cola self-reflection. A mirror image of a photo that never ends.
Jamal Booker is manager of heritage communications at The
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