Jon Nettlesbey & Terry Coffey: How They Wrote & Produced Commercial Jingles For Coca-Cola

Terry Coffey and Jon Nettlesbey
Terry Coffey (left) and Jon Nettlesbey in the studio.

Terry Coffey & Jon Nettlesbey are probably best known in the music industry for writing and producing many R&B/Pop hits in the ’90s for such artists as Keith Washington, Howard Hewett, Miki Howard, Alexander O’Neal and Aaron Hall. They wrote or produced three #1 R&B hits, along with several other Top 10 R&B hits.

However, they have uniquely established an additional new career, becoming successful jingle writer/producers for Coca-Cola. Amidst tremendous competition from many other writers, the duo won this coveted job by writing the highly successful jingle “Always Coca-Cola,” which was heavily broadcast worldwide from 1993 to 1999. They have also written the latest theme, “Coca-Cola Enjoy.”

In a recent interview, Coffey & Nettlesbey explained how they were able to break into the very tough, commercial jingle business. “We were signed in the early ’90s with Creative Artists Agency (CAA),” said Nettlesbey. “CAA had just become the agency representing Coca-Cola. At the time, we had wanted CAA to help us pursue work doing film scores. But when CAA told us they were looking for a great new jingle for Coca-Cola, we decided to write a jingle also.”

Coffey & Nettlesbey soon learned that they would be competing for the jingle with many other writers in CAA’s music department, including some superstar talent. They met with CAA agents Shelly Hochran and Len Fink, who instructed them to write a jingle that utilized the theme, “Always.”

“We had never written a jingle, but we started envisioning how we would write it,” explained Coffey. “I immediately heard a melody in my head, then we quickly recorded a track. I knew it had to be catchy, so we kept the melody the same in both the verse and the chorus to make it easy to remember. We thought it was important to keep it very simple, so kids would remember it, almost like a nursery rhyme.”

Coffey recorded a contemporary, upbeat track, and then Nettlesbey worked on the lyric. “I knew we needed a very positive, upbeat lyric to go with Terry’s bouncy track,” said Nettlesbey. “In the second verse, I wrote about positive things that will always be around, just like there’s always been Coca-Cola. The lyric went: ‘The stars will always shine, the birds will always sing. As long as there is thirst, there’s always The Real Thing.'”

“For the chorus, we hadn’t finished the lyric yet, so on the demo we just sang the phrase, ‘Do do do do do’Always Coca-Cola.’ We figured we’d finish the lyric later after getting feedback on the demo. Amazingly, as it turned out, the Coca-Cola executives liked the ‘Do do do do do’ hook so much they decided to keep it as it is. They didn’t want us to write more lyrics in the chorus.”

Within a two-week period, the Coca-Cola executives made their decision, selecting Coffey & Nettlesbey’s jingle for their massive, new advertising campaign. The jingle was initially projected to be used for just a year or two, but because it was so successful, it became Coca-Cola’s theme song for the next six years.

The jingle first came out in January 1993, and received heavy play during the Super Bowl and other key broadcasts. Coffey & Nettlesbey went on to produce numerous, different versions of the jingle, for both radio and TV. This included producing jingles in every conceivable music style, such as country (they worked with Randy Travis), rock, salsa, jazz (working with Take 6) and symphonic. In addition, the jingle was recorded in 170 different languages for Coke’s worldwide ad campaign. Many of the foreign versions featured dubbed vocals over Coffey & Nettlesbey’s track.

Suddenly, Coffey & Nettlesbey found themselves with a new, lucrative career in the jingle business. The duo estimated they produced about 50 different versions each year. “It became a full-time job for many years,” said Coffey. “We would stay up all night working, doing one spot after another.”

Finally, in 1999, Coca-Cola decided to create a new campaign, utilizing the theme, “Enjoy.” Once again, Coffey & Nettlesbey had to compete with many other writers for this new jingle gig, but they prevailed. Their new jingle, “Coca-Cola Enjoy,” was selected to lead the next Coke campaign. “Coca-Cola Enjoy” debuted in spots at the beginning of 2000. The duo recorded about 50 new spots during the year.

Coffey & Nettlebey remain grateful for their enduring success in the jingle world. They realize that they were in the right place at the right time, coming up with the “Always” jingle exactly when CAA was trying to launch a great new campaign for Coca-Cola.

“We were lucky to be with CAA at that time, getting the jingle,” they both said. “We were able to get right through to Coca-Cola, instead of the standard process of trying to break in with a jingle house. The jingle business can be a tough and political field to break into, but we were able to make the most of our opportunity.”

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima