Coca-Cola collectors, bloggers and employees from Singapore and Malaysia recently were treated to an exclusive meet-and-greet session with Ted Ryan, Coke’s director of heritage communications.

Ted Ryan, Coke’s director of heritage communications, presents proceeds from the auction to Chris Tan, head of fundraising for the Singapore Red Cross.
Ted Ryan, Coke’s director of heritage communications, presents proceeds from the auction to Chris Tan, head of fundraising for the Singapore Red Cross.

Ryan hosted a breakfast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore to showcase several Coca-Cola collectibles, including a Coca-Cola yo-yo set from the 1980s and a replica of the first Coca-Cola six-pack carton from 1923, as well as ads in Singapore from the 1950s created in different languages to reach the country's diverse population.

The April 13 session kicked off with an interactive quiz, which educated attendees about iconic milestones in the brand’s history, such as the years Coca-Cola launched into space and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear made its debut.

Prizes ranged from Coca-Cola puzzle sets to vintage Coca-Cola straw holders, specially shipped from the Coca-Cola Store in Atlanta. Ryan also explored the company’s longstanding commitment to promoting active, healthy lifestyles, showing an old Coca-Cola ad featuring a cyclist, the brand’s first celebrity sportsperson.

Ryan also walked the audience through product and package innovations through the years, noting how the company has expanded its portfolio from a single beverage in a single package, to more than 3,500 choices worldwide.

Singapore collectors
Attendees bid on Coca-Cola collectibles during a charity auction.

The highlight of the session was a charity auction, where attendees bid on Coca-Cola collectibles such as vintage Coca-Cola thermostats, original Coca-Cola calendars from the 1970s and an unopened Coca-Cola centennial coffee-table book. An original piece of sheet music from the first Coca-Cola radio show in 1927 drew the highest bid.

Proceeds from the auction went to the Singapore Red Cross (SRC), with Coca-Cola Singapore matching dollar for dollar for a total contribution of SGD1,300 ($1,050). The money will support the SRC’s Food Aid Program.

Coca-Cola Singapore organizes gatherings with Coca-Cola collectors and bloggers at least once a year. “It was great that Coca-Cola Singapore was able to make this event possible,” said Kannie Yeo, president, Singapore Coca-Cola Collectors Club. “Having enthusiastic Singapore Coke Collectors meeting up with Ted was an unforgettable moment. We learned more about the history and heritage of Coca-Cola... there is always something new to learn.”

Coca-Cola has had a long-term relationship with the SRC, founded in 1917. During World War I, Coca-Cola supported Red Cross fundraising campaigns. The company works with the Red Cross and Red Crescent in more than 50 countries globally.

“The Red Cross has an enduring partnership with Coca-Cola, both globally and locally,” said Chris Tan, head of fundraising, SRC. “Personally, it was exciting to have had a glimpse of the company’s merchandize evolution over the years. The fundraising auction is a wonderful extension of our collaboration. We look forward to continuing our rapport with Coca-Cola, to bring greater service to vulnerable people.” In November 2011, Coca-Cola Singapore and the Singapore Red Cross Society announced a partnership to promote blood donation in Singapore.

“Meeting these collectors and getting to experience their passion for everything Coca-Cola made for an inspiring morning,” said Ryan, who blogged about his trip on Coca-Cola Conversations. “It was a pleasure to contribute the items for the auction to raise money for the Red Cross, but the enthusiasm of the people was contagious and will be the memory I take away from my day in Singapore.”

Watch TV coverage of the session here and here, and read a local blogger’s report here.