Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Coca-Cola Square Of Vilafranca

They're going to create a new square in Vilafranca de Bonany. It will cost just short of a quarter of a million euros and involve the transformation of a disused plot of land in a part of the village where there is currently an absence of public spaces. There will be orange trees, a fountain with small fish, and shade for the elderly to practise some physical jerks. The elderly are quite important in this regard, for this will be the square for the Vilafranca grandfather of Coca-Cola.

In 2009, Pep Mascaró acquired a certain fame. He was well-known in Vilafranca but not outside the village. He had lived a long life. He was 102, with six children, 33 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren. Yet he was to give a message that life can seem short. It was part of the global campaign "Open Happiness" developed by McCann-Erickson for Coca-Cola.

L’amo en Pep de Son Bats was how he was known in Vilafranca. He had appeared on a programme for the IB3 broadcaster and was then put forward by one of his numerous relatives as a candidate to take the central role in an advert to be developed by McCann-Erickson on behalf of Coca-Cola España. The grandfather of Vilafranca, as he was also known, undertook a special journey. He took his first plane journey to meet a newborn baby, Aitana, and to convey a message of happiness.

"Hello Aitana, my name is Josep Mascaró and I am 102 years old. I'm lucky, lucky to have been born, like you. To have been able to hug my wife, to have met my friends, to have said goodbye to them. You will wonder what the reason is for my coming to see you today. Many people will tell you what to think of about these times: that there is crisis, that you cannot ... . Ah! ... This will make you strong: I have known worse moments than this, but in the end the only thing you're going to remember is the good times. Do not dwell on the nonsenses. Find what makes you happy. Time goes very fast. I have lived 102 years and I can assure you that the only thing you will not like about life is that it will seem too short. You're here to be happy."

Pep died in August 2012 at the age of 105. He had attributed his long life to his simple farming upbringing, to his never having smoked, to his having cycled and run until very late in life, to his having practised "gymnastics" - those physical jerks for the elderly. After he died, they gave him a plaque. Now, the town hall wants to give him a square.

When they build the square, they should think about putting up another plaque, one that contains Pep's message. Yes, it was of course a Coca-Cola ad designed to tug the heart strings. Some dismissed it as cynical marketing by a global multinational. Others ignored the nonsenses. They celebrated Pep's life and Pep's message.

The square will be a nice honour. The Council of Mallorca will probably end up paying for it. Perhaps Coca-Cola could chip in. There again, it might become Plaça l’amo en Pep de Son Bats, sponsored by Coke.

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