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The television ad "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" was released first in Europe, where it garnered only a tepid response. It was then released in the U.S. in July, 1971, and the response was immediate and dramatic. By November of that year, Coca-Cola and its bottlers had received more than a hundred thousand letters about the ad. At that time the demand for the song was so great that many people were calling radio stations and asking them to play the commercial. Clearly, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" had struck a chord deeper than the normal response to the advertisement of a commercial product, and Billy Davis asked Bill Backer to rewrite the lyrics without the references to Coke.
Because the New Seekers were initially unavailable to record the new version, a group calling itself the Hillside Singers recorded it with a country-and-western flavor and released it as a single. When the New Seekers began an American tour several weeks latter, they re-recorded the new lyrics and released a second single. Both version sold wellin fact, at one point, the New Seekers version was listed among the top ten songs on the American pop music charts while the Hillside Singers version was number thirteen. Such successes were repeated around the world as the ad's popularity expanded. Recordings of the song and versions of the sheet music appeared in a variety of languages to fill an ever-increasing demand. (Source)