The British Film Institute in London is enjoying the real thing, courtesy of global soft drinks giant Coca-Cola.

The beverage behemoth has donated 1,200 of its ads to the BFI, plus the promise of around £1 million ($1.9m, €1.4m) over three years, to launch a library of cinema and TV commercials extending over the last century.

The BFI is hoping other companies will make their work available together with some more funding.

Says Coca-Cola archivist Ted Ryan at company HQ in Atlanta: "Ads are an orphan of the film industry. There's no real home for them anywhere. But you look at them and say OK, in 1964 music was important, in such and such an era smoking was legitimate and so on. It's like you're holding up a mirror to a given point in time."

The archive will be available online and, apart from classic Coke commercials such as the 1970s 'Hilltop', will feature such forgotten gems as Kellogg's Rice Krispies with music from then youthful rockers Rolling Stones and venerable actor Sir Michael Caine selling beer brand Watney's Pale Ale.

Data sourced from AdAge Global; additional content by WARC staff