13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Iconic Coca-Cola Christmas Truck

Posted on 12th December 2018 By Charlotte Haye

It’s Christmas once again, and you know what that means? It means the slew of Christmas adverts has started once again. This year, we wanted to bring your attention to one in particular. The one that started them all, and continues to be the advert that signals the start Christmas for many people. We’re talking, of course, about the big red trucks from Coca-Cola. After all, its an HGV, so why wouldn’t we want to talk about it! To end the year on a light-hearted note, here are 13 things you might not have known about the Coca-Cola truck.

  • The very first time the Coca-Cola truck graced our screens at Christmas was in 1995. The advert showed hundreds of red trucks decked out in Coca-Cola logos and bright fairy lights driving through a forest. But while the trucks feature fairly heavily in the ad, only one is actually used – the rest are just CGI. Speaking of which…


  • The special effects team who work with Coca-Cola on their adverts is one of the most star-studded yet. To this day, Coca-Cola uses special effects company Industrial Light and Magic to bring the magic to life. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because they are the company behind the Star Wars special effects, and owned by George Lucas himself.


  • The hashtag #HolidaysAreComing (inspired by the adverts chanting song) was created on Twitter in 2013. During that year it was tweeted over 57 million times. In the same year, Coca-Cola recorded an astounding 2 million visits to their website, all aimed at the page tracking the truck’s journey across the country.


  • The Coca-Cola trucks have travelled an awfully long way. Over their years of service and 40-stop journey, they’ve racked up over 737,000 miles. The trucks themselves require a lot more maintenance than a normal HGV. The fairy lights alone require some serious attention to keep them running.


  • In 1999 the Coca-Cola Christmas advert showed a huge caravan of hundreds of trucks all driving information. But because of the expense of creating the extravagant branded trucks, they only used three in filming – the rest were all superimposed.


  • One year Coca-Cola aired a TV advert titled ‘journey’, which 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.


  • Coca-Cola actually stopped airing their Christmas adverts and campaigns between 2001 and 2007. But by then they had become so popular that this caused public outrage. It would be like if John Lewis cancelled their Christmas advertising now. Coca-Cola caved to the pressure and on 2008 they brought back the campaigns in force.


  • By 2015 the demand for visits from the Coca-Cola truck was so high that one tuck couldn’t manage it all. That year, Coca-Cola created a second truck to meet the demand. One started a tour in the North, while the other started in the South. They wound their way across the country and all the extra stops and met up in the middle.


  • The Coca-Cola truck isn’t just a big red HGV that drives around and looks pretty. At every stop, it opens it’s sides and offers free cans of Coke, Coke Zero or Diet Coke to the public, and provides a free recycle point for cans as well. Every year thousands of families will queue in the cold for a chance to get their free can and hear the festive music it pumps out.


  • The truck has been doing its annual tour for a long time now and visits over 40 stops on its way around the country.


  • By 1998, millions of people were religiously watching the Coca-Cola adverts over the festive season. It was the John Lewis adverts of the nineties.


  • We had to put this one at number eleven. In the past, members of the public were forbidden from driving the Coca-Cola truck – only a fully licensed member of the Coca-Cola company could have that honour. But a few years ago, Matt Smith (AKA the Eleventh Doctor) put out some tweets in an effort to raise awareness to cystic fibrosis. After his tweets went viral, Coca-Cola contacted him and gave him the opportunity to drive the truck.


  • The iconic image of Santa Claus that we know and love today was actually 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.


Whether you like it, love it or don’t really mind it, Coca-Cola has become one of the advertising staples of the Christmas period. And while it might be a capitalist idea, we enjoy the attention it brings to HGV’s everywhere. Because without them delivering Christmas packages, Santa wouldn’t have a full sleigh to deliver.

From all of us at Surrey and Hampshire HGV Training, have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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