The other night I was watching yet another installment from the Lost & Found Video series and one of the many insane images that flashed before me happened to be the 1968 commercial for the German soft drink Afri-Cola. Indeed, it is a ridiculous video, and therefore fit nicely with the mish-mash of cable access footage, bad 60s exploitation scenes, horrible foreign film scenes, and the general solid gold garbage one expects from an episode of Lost & Found Video.
Although the Afri-Cola commercials have made the rounds on YouTube and the occasional blog commenting on its bizarreness, few seem to mention Charles Wilp who created the campaign for the fledging company.
Afri-Cola was Germany’s early version of today’s overly caffeinated soft drinks (we’re talking 250 mg/L). The company hired Wilp in hopes that he could breathe new life into the brand — and he delivered. My point being that Charles Wilp was well known in Germany at the time and therefore the commercials aren’t really as odd as they may seem. He was a multi-talented photographer, designer, filmmaker, and composer. His abstract concepts were in high demand throughout the 60s and 70s, and his Afri-Cola campaign with its slogan ‘Super-sexy-mini-flower-pop-op-cola’ was just what the company wanted.
The take-away message is that despite the ‘bizarreness’ of the campaign, it was also highly focused. We’re all familiar withthe climate of the 60s and Germany’s contribution to the arts at that time. Wilp and Afri-Cola targeted just about every market that wasn’t mainstream — all at the same time. And in Germany during the late 60s, that was no small market.