Holidays Are Comin’ – The History Of The Iconic Coca Cola Christmas Truck

Posted on Dec 4 2013 - 11:02am by Alex


What is the first indication that Christmas is around the corner? The first decorations going up in the shops and supermarkets? The first time you hear Noddy Holder shout “IT’S CHRIIISTMAAAAAS!” on the radio? Or is it when you catch Home Alone in the Sunday teatime slot?

For many of us, it’s the moment when we switch on the TV and hear that familiar, ominous chant: ‘Holidays are Comin’’, as the iconic Coca Cola trucks roll up onto our screens to bring light and joy to the townspeople of an anonymous American town (plus plenty of sugary Coke to keep the kids happy!). The advert, which debuted in 1995, has been on and off our televisions for 18 years in various forms that keep the same essential elements: the song, the trucks and the snow scape. When Coke tries a new Christmas campaign, it falls from our memories (though the Coke polar bears are still popular mascots), and demand grows for the return of the trucks. After Coke tried to retire the ad in 2001, it returned again in 2007 to much fanfare and hasn’t left since.

Who Created It?

Created by the ad agency W.B. Doner, who have worked with Coke on numerous successful campaigns, the ‘Holidays Are Comin’ ad featured special effects by Industrial Light and Magic. George Lucas’s special effects company also worked on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. With a little bit of smoke and mirrors, the line of Coke trucks looked endless as they trailed across the town.

It’s amazing to think something as unfestive as a HGV truck has become synonymous with the season to be jolly, but Coke has very successfully become a Christmas icon using a combination of their twinkling trucks and the Coca Cola Santa, a rotund fellow who loves nothing more than taking a break and supping a Coke. So popular are the trucks that they now go on tour every year across the UK, stopping off at town centres for photo opportunities and free samples of the world’s favourite drink. There is also a promise of Christmas elves, Christmas carols sung by a choir, and maybe even a visit by Santa himself!

The Truck Is Coming To Town!

This year the truck is making 52 stops up and down the country, apparently treating the ‘kindest’ towns and cities, based on a survey of 2,500 people. These have been tagged by Coke as ‘kindness hotspots’, and the campaign has gone down a storm. The tour has 14,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and the local presses are swelling with pride that their towns will get the privilege of a visit from Santa’s truck (Bedford are fuming that they’ve missed out).

Though the Christmas trucks are a fairly recent festive tradition, the Coca-Cola Santa figure has been around since 1931, when illustrator Haddon Sundblom was commissioned to create the now iconic, ruddy-cheeked, Coca-Cola Santa. It was Coke’s intention to move away from the idea that the chilled beverage was a refreshing ‘summer’ drink, and could also be enjoyed all year round. Sundblom’s charming illustrations worked, creating a creative partnership that would last over 30 years, and imagery that is still used by Coke to this day, including on the side of its trucks.

Photo Credit: Flickr/kimubert

About the Author

Alex works alongside and is a passionate writer on topics like driving and travelling with a soft spot for anything Christmas related, it being her favourite time of the year.