“Share a Coke” is signing a new tune this summer with a first-of-its-kind campaign featuring song lyrics on limited-edition packaging. We caught up with Coca-Cola Music to learn how they sourced, selected and secured the 75 genre-spanning lyrics found on bottles and cans of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life.

The process started last July, when the team briefed music agency Cornerstone on the “Share a Coke and a Song” concept, which Coca-Cola China originated in 2014.

“It was important for us to choose a mix of lyrics – some modern, some emerging, some iconic – and we knew we wanted a few summer anthems,” explains Stella Ringer, senior manager of music marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “They needed to be universal, but teen-focused. We wanted to give our fans a way to share a special moment or memory with family and friends over a Coke.”

Share a Coke and a Song

Joe Belliotti, Coke North America's head of music marketing, added: “Music is a universal language. Lyrics can explain how we feel and what we want to say when we can’t find the words ourselves. And the art of sharing music to express feelings for someone special goes back to creating mixtapes as a kid, which later evolved to mix CDs and now playlists… that behavior hasn’t changed. We wanted to find a way to take this idea to 'Share a Coke'.”

Cornerstone came back with an initial batch of 200 lyrics in August. “We all got in a room and evaluated each one on how recognizable and shareable they were, and the sentiment conveyed,” Ringer said. "We had to get approval from everyone listed in the song’s credits – songwriters, artists, labels, publishers and others. In some cases, that was five or more parties. It was a pretty grueling process.”

Diet Coke Share a Coke and a Song 6pack

Most of the lyrics sourced for campaign were from catalogs owned by two of the industry’s top music publishers – Sony and Universal – which streamlined the clearance process. The final list was finalized in October.

“There is no precedent for putting song lyrics on Coke packaging, so we were starting from scratch,” Belliotti said. “We were fortunate because our publishing partners helped us develop a creative business model that benefits everyone.”

Coke Music ultimately selected lyrics that capture a moment and reflect the brand values of optimism, refreshment and inclusion. They capture the feeling of falling in love (“The Way You Love Me” and “You Belong With Me”) and celebrating victory (“All I Do is Win” and “We Are The Champions”) to moments of friendship (“Lean On Me”), to flirtation (“It’s Getting Hot in Herre”), sass (“We Never Go Out Of Style”), motivation (“I’m Your Biggest Fan”) and patriotism (“I’m Proud To Be An American” and “Sweet Land Of Liberty”). Belliotti said the team hopes the campaign will both trigger memories of forgotten songs and help fans discover new favorites. The complete list of lyrics featured on pack can be found at www.ShareaCoke.com.

“We didn’t focus solely on greatest hits or trending tracks,” he explained. “We picked lyrics that inspire connection. Our goal was to create a list that appeals to diverse tastes, so every music fan can feel there’s at least one lyric that speaks to them.”

Patriotic Cans

“Share a Coke and Song” also extends beyond its core set of lyrics with 20 or so region-specific song titles – including “Rocky Mountain High”, “Welcome to Miami”, “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

Packaging began to roll out nationwide in mid-April, backed by a full advertising and marketing campaign that includes music-themed TV and cinema ads, social and digital activations, and a summer-long experiential tour of major music events. Fans can also use the Shazam mobile app to scan lyrics on specially marked "Share a Coke" 20-oz. bottles and signage, then record a digital lip-sync video to share on social media with the #ShareaCoke hashtag.

Share a Coke and a Song tour

And consumers aren’t the only ones fired up; featured musicians are equally pumped to see the fruits of their creative labor on store shelves and posted online. Artists such as R&B singer Andra Day, pop stars Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo, and country crooner Jimmy Wayne have proudly showed off “their” Coke packaging on social media.

Selena Gomez

“As an artist, the first time you hear your song on the radio or see your music video on TV is really special,” Belliotti said. “With ‘Share a Coke and a Song’, we’re creating another special milestone moment when artists see their lyrics on a Coke bottle for the first time. It’s new and exciting.”

“Share a Coke and a Song” signals a major evolution for one of the company’s most successful U.S. campaigns ever, now in its third year. "Share a Coke", which originated in Australia in 2011 and has since rolled out in more than 70 countries.