Christmas has a lot of hallmarks. Things that people point to and say ‘now it’s Christmas’. For some, it’s the day the John Lewis advert plays, the first of December, or when the first Christmas song playing on the radio (which is often the same day). But for a lot of people, it’s still not quite Christmas until they see that big red truck and hear the whispers of ‘holidays are coming’. There’s something so humble and Christmassy about it. And of course, as an HGV firm, we think it’s the best signpost for the festive season there is. So this month, we wanted to take a break from our usual topics and give you 13 little-known facts about that iconic big red truck.
- The Coca-Cola truck has been a part of the Christmas scene since 1995. But despite the fact that the truck is heavily featured, most of it is made up of special effects, with the real truck getting almost no airtime.
- Speaking of which, did you know that those special effects were created by none other than Industrial Light and Magic. If that’s not familiar to you – they’re the folks behind the special effects for the Star Wars movies.
- The Coca-Cola truck now stops at over 40 cities and towns across the UK on its 2-month tour, starting in November and finishing just a few days before Christmas.
- The Coca-Cola truck doesn’t just drive around looking pretty. At every stop, it gives away free cans of original Coke, Coke Zero and Diet Coke, and encourages visitors to recycle their empty cans. Every year families queue up for hours just to get their free can.
- Between 2001 and 2007 Coca-Cola stopped their usual Christmas advertising. But this caused such an uproar that they brought the ads back in 2008, making that year’s Christmas for a lot of people.
- The Coca-Cola truck is kitted out with 8,772 twinkling fairy lights that have to be carefully maintained. And it’s no surprise, seeing as the trucks themselves have driven over 737,000 miles in their time on the road.
- During 2013, the hashtag #HolidaysAreComing was tweeted over 57 million times. That same year, over 2 million people visited the Coca-Cola website to find out where the trucks were stopping.
- In 1999 the Christmas advert showed a huge fleet of trucks all driving along together in a caravan. However, only 3 trucks were actually used in filming – the rest were digitally replicated.
- By 1998 the Coca-Cola Christmas adverts had become so iconic that millions of people were watching them religiously in over 100 countries.
- The TV advert titled ‘journey’ saw the Coca-Cola trucks come to life. While a man and his grandson were reading a Christmas story in their home, the trucks surprise them by coming to life.
- No one from the public is allowed to drive the trucks – only certified members of the Coca-Cola company. But a few years ago, Matt Smith was allowed to hop into the driver’s seat in a bid to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis.
- In 2015 the demand for visits from the Coca-Cola truck was so high that they actually commissioned a second truck so that they could make all the stops. One of the trucks started out in the North, while the other travelled the South, and they met up in the middle.
- The iconic image of Santa Claus that we know and love today was created by Haddon Sundblom for Coca-Cola. Until that point, jolly St Nick was portrayed in green, but Coca-Cola wanted something a bit more aligned with their brand. He is still featured on the big red truck, either drinking Coca-Cola or holding a bottle of it aloft as he tours the country.
So, whether you love coke, hate it or don’t have any particular feelings towards it, the Coca0Cola Christmas truck has captured the heart of millions. And with the help of it, and HGV drivers everywhere, Christmas will be delivered with a smile and twinkle.
So from all of us at The HGV Training Centre, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!