Coca-Cola began using polar bears for print advertising in 1922. And the polar bears would appear occasionally in printed advertisements over the next seventy years. It wasn’t until 1992 that advertising professional Ken Stewart gave life to the Coca-Cola polar bears in the popular Northern Lights television commercial in February 1993. The Coke polar bears were one of the first digitally animated advertising campaigns. The television commercials featuring the polar bears touched on the emotion and magic that many of Coca-Cola’s previous ad campaigns had done. Starting in 1993, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears from the “Always Coca-Cola” (admit it, you just sang that in your head) series of advertisements and many more successful marketing campaigns came complete with matching Coke merchandise.
Manufactured in 1999, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera could be purchased in a Coca-Cola collector tin or bought by itself in a sealed plastic clamshell package. The camera came with two AA batteries and a roll of Kodak Max 400 color film, a Coke branded camera case, and camera strap. The camera is a simple point-and-shoot, with no special features other than being automatic and motorized. Sliding the polar bear, holding his beverage of choice, to the side reveals what I’m guessing to be a 35mm f/5.6 lens. The camera automatically senses light and fires the flash if needed. The top of the camera features a frame counter and a switch to rewind the film. The shutter is triggered by pressing the Coca-Cola bottle cap.
This camera was given to me last Christmas by my oldest son, Caleb. My initial test was an incredibly expired roll of Kodak Gold 400. The roll was not stored in a box, so I don’t know the expiration date, but the shifting colors are a good indicator that it was past its prime. I developed this roll with the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. I like quirky branded toy cameras like the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera. I wish they would make a camera featuring my preferred drink, Coke Zero.