26 years of the Coca-Cola truck as festive staple returns to Glasgow
The famous 12-wheelers have planted themselves firmly in the “must have” category during the festive period; as synonymous with Christmas as Mariah Carey, Yorkshire puddings and socks for dad. The trucks, dubbed “Christmas Caravans”, first appeared on our television screens 26 years ago. In 1995, the company behind the Star Wars original films, helped produce the first advert featuring the Coca-Cola truck.
Filled with hopeful, festive music, Santa raises his bottle of Coke as a Christmas toast, and leaves an image ingrained in the heads of everyone across the world. The now iconic TV advert featured a string of trucks, which may have looked completely real, but were in fact 40-foot props and used over thirty-thousand bulbs. From here, the Coca-Cola Truck, and a certain shade of red, tell us Christmas has arrived.
Sign up to our Glasgow Live nostalgia newsletters for more local history and heritage content straight to your inbox Coca-Cola’s Christmas origin story Coca-Cola’s genius marketing plan for the festive period really started in the 1920s, when they began using Santa for advertising.
A string of advertisements showed Santa enjoying a Coca-Cola in department stores, or in a family’s living room with a child in lap. However, when they hired artist Haddon Sundlbom in 1931, his depiction of a rosy-cheeked, smiling Mr Claus really helped the Christmas branding for Cola take off. Sundblom created several different artistic depictions of Santa for the brand, up until 1964.
Coca-Cola has continued to use his version of Saint Nicholas, most famously slapped on the side of (you guessed it) the Coca-Cola truck. Traditionally clad in red and white, Santa, after all, already had the correct branding. After we first saw the truck in 1995, the brand new they’d struck gold; and gripped on tight.
In 1998, a second version saw a young boy alert his small village (town crier style) that Coca-Cola was coming to town. Running through the snow, he reached the trucks just in time to have a glass bottle of Cola magically appear in his hands. Heart-warming stuff.
Perhaps the most peculiar version of the seasonal advertising came in 1999, featuring a young boy and his grandfather reading a storybook by the fire. The fireplace (as it tends to) then turns into the Coca-Cola truck, transporting the duo to a winter wonderland filled with lights, ice skating, and Cola. Thankfully it was all just a dream and a 14-tonne truck had not ploughed through the living room, as we see the family asleep peacefully on the sofa.
Sadly, we missed on six good years of Coca-Cola Christmas adverts featuring the trucks from 2001 to 2007. Though after popular demand, the trucks returned in 07 with another simple idea; boy hears truck, boy alerts town, boy gets a Coca-Cola. They’ve graced our screens from then on, and tugged at our heartstrings last year with a story worthy of a full feature film.
The 2020 Coca-Cola Christmas advert featured a young girl who gave her father a letter, addressed to Santa, to send away. We then see the man working on what appears to be an offshore oil rig, and would you believe, he’s forgotten to send the letter. He then battles through adverse conditions to make it all the way to Santa’s Grotto, to discover it’s closed for Christmas.
Darn. But wait, the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks are here to help. He gets a lift from one of the trucks all the way home, to open his daughter’s letter and discover all she wanted for Christmas was for daddy to come home.
While they’d wiggled their way into our hearts, it wasn’t until 2010 that the brand had the bright idea to pop the trucks on our streets. A 14-tonne lorry, donned with fairy lights and the occasional Santa, was set to stop off across the supermarkets up and down the country. Handing out cans, bottles, and cheer to all.
The rest is history. The Winter Wonderland truck stops have become such a staple, that many consider it the true beginning of the festive period. Return to Glasgow
In 2019, Edinburgh was the only Scottish stop on the tour. The following year pandemic restrictions kept Santa, and the trucks, at home. Thankfully this year, the Coca-Cola truck will return to Glasgow.
The festive staple will stop off at the Silverburn Shopping Centre in Pollok on Wednesday, November 24, and visitors will once again experience the joy and magic that the truck has been bringing for the last three decades.
More about the Coca-Cola truck schedule can be found on their website.
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