Depending on your outlook, the arrival of Christmas is heralded by a variety of different things. The sound of Christmas carols sung by angelic school choirs, the first sign of any festive advertising – or maybe it’s the Coca-Cola truck.
It’s fair to say that Coke have got it festively right again for a new generation. Not content with arguably inventing the image that we all now associate as being Santa Claus way back in the thirties, Coca-Cola now have the Coke truck. When the Coca-Cola truck adverts stopped in 2001, Coca-Cola were inundated with calls from a disappointed public urging them to bring the truck back. It was indeed now heralding the start of Christmas for many.
This year, the ‘Holidays are coming’ truck is travelling around Britain on a 64 date tour, so maybe it’s timely to take a longer look at this rather striking vehicle.
The idea behind the Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks was first dreamt up by WB Doner in 1995. WB Doner are the agency who were designated with the task of coming up with ideas for the new Coca-Cola festive advertising campaign for that season. The trucks were originally known as ‘Christmas Caravans’ and were given that magical feel by the famous Industrial Light and Magic, who created some of the stunning effects for Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. The image of Santa on the side of the trucks is the original Coca-Cola Santa drawn by Haddon Sundblom in the 1930s.
By 1998 the Christmas Coca-Cola ads were being seen in more than 100 different countries. The three trucks used for the 1995 advert were decorated with around 30,000 bulbs. I would like to think that they kept to the Christmas lighting tradition of having them all go out if just one bulb failed.
But what is the Coca-Cola Christmas truck? I’ve seen both Freightliner and Peterbilt badges on the front of these trucks, and both of these classic American truck manufacturers do indeed have vehicles that look strikingly similar to each other. But whichever model is used, I have to say the advert is a winner for me. I think in time we will come to appreciate the WB Doner created Coca-Cola truck concept as one of the most striking and endearing images of the run-in to Christmas that we have. Who knows, maybe it will one day comfortably find a place on Christmas cards in it’s own iconic right.
But before we get carried away, let’s not forget what Christmas is all about. Tradition has always been something that has been handed down from generation to generation verbally. So this year, try to find a moment to explain the true meaning of Christmas to the next wide-eyed generation, sit down in front of a cosy log fire on Christmas Eve with a glass of mulled wine and some mince pies – and tell them all about Santa and his tiny elves..