When in Atlanta
two brands are right up there. Both begin with C. We began with the first. CNN.
Mary had booked us a tour for this morning, so we were there, ready to go in good time.
We waited in the lobby, by the eight-storey high escalator and watched the news.
Well, what else would you do in a news organisation?
Having met our guide, Daniel, we got to ride that escalator: still the longest free standing escalator in the world, even though it’s been there since 1976.
At the top, we were able to get an overview of the process of putting the TV news together. Here were two sets of screens; one was for the domestic CNN here in USA, the other for international CNN. As you can seen, whilst we were there, it was reporting live from London where Parliament had been recalled to pay tribute to Jo Cox, the murdered MP. Daniel explained the series of screens; the preview screens and the cues and of course, the main live feed to each of the two channels.
The next stop was a mock up of a newsroom, where someone could pretend to read the news and appear live on TV. Had we been in a large group, this could have been fun, but with only the three of us and Daniel, we left it to my hero to sit and read the autocue. No, of course I’m not going to embarrass him by posting the photo I took!
We’d arrived in between live TV shows, so there was not much going on in the studio but Daniel was able to explain about the cameras, most of which are now remote control and the lights – notice the colour, a blueish pink.
From there we went into a no photo, high security area: the news room. Here, rows of journalists and news gatherers were sitting in front of banks of screens, reading a variety of news feeds and monitoring stories from around the world. Here too were the banks of Nielsen screens, constantly monitoring audience response and reaction alongside the social media monitors and online feeds. It was here where we realised what a huge operation news reporting is these days and how quickly it’s still changing. Blink and you could miss the big story and yes, it’s all live.
We were able to see into the controllers’ room where live CNN was being broadcast as we watched – exhausting? You bet! Daniel likened it to Air Traffic Control – 100% attention required of everyone 100% of the time in there.
Remember the cool blueish pink lighting in the studio across the way? We followed Daniel over to CNN Espanol, the Spanish language service, where the lighting was anything but cool! Here, it was noticeably warmer yellow – interesting, n’est-ce pas?
Our CNN tour concluded, we made our way across the Centennial Park (sweet of them to fly the Union flag, wasn’t it?) towards our afternoon location. The second C (and the third!)
There were rather more folks here than at CNN and we hadn’t planned ahead by buying tickets in advance. Hopefully, we weren’t going to have a long wait.
Hah! straight in. Tickets bought, no queue and in we went.
The first thing to do was to visit the counter and choose our preferred variety (and a map). I quite liked the cute aluminium bottle and have been trying how to wrangle it into my journal
The first “show” was a broad introduction to the brand, narrated by the excellent (and ever so enthusiastic) Auzhanae.
Isn’t she great?
For the next couple of hours, we made our way through a succession of themed displays. The first had a collection of historical artefacts and advertising material.
Another told the history of the product and the ways of protecting the concept from copycat products.
The spelling mistake might be a clue!
This display focused on the secret formula and the precautions taken to safeguard it. Do you believe it’s really behind that door (bearing in mind that we’d just been reading that one of the security measures was to ensure it was never written down)?
More advertising material and promotional items were on display here too.
Upstairs was a Disney-style show with moving seats, water splashes and fun. It was a little basic and far from subtle but the group of summer school youngsters behind us loved it (and were probably nearer the target audience!)
After watching a few Coke TV ads from around the world (yes, including “I’d like to teach the world to sing”), we spent a short time in the last room, where we sampled Coke products from around the world. Here was the good old Thums Up cola we remembered from India and Inca Kola from Peru amongst other strangely familiar products. There was also the full range of Coca Colas – Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Coke Classic, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Caffeine-free Coke and the new green Coke, so if we hadn’t been totally bubbled out with Coke already, we could have engineered our sugar-rush here.
We decided it was time to go and exited through the gift shop, helping ourselves to another free sample bottle as we went (glass, this time, so no chance to squashing it into my journal…I’m thinking of maybe driving over the aluminium bottle, btw!)
Guess what was to be found in the gift shop?
Well, actually, there was all manner of T shirts, soft toys, glasses, homeware and anything (and everything) you can think of, as long as it can be made in red).
We resisted the temptation but many families left bearing numerous carrier bags reminding us of those leaving the American Girl Doll stores!
This evening, we visited Gus’s Fried Chicken, where Red served us a tray full of the most delicious things; more than we could eat, but declined to serve me a Blue Moon beer because I did not have appropriate id to show her The lemonade was fine
We’ve had a great day here, then and still have a few things on our list to see. But as they say around here, tomorrow is another day…