Come holiday season, there a few things you can guarantee will come back year after year: twinkling lights, evergreen trees, and 24/7 exposure to Christmas songs on the radio. Since 1995, the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck and its respective tour have been added to that list. Over 20 years ago, the advertising agency W.B. Doner was entrusted by the Coca-Cola Company to create a memorable television advertisement, which featured illuminated trucks and iconic artwork by artist Haddon Sundblom.
This image of Santa Claus, conceptualized in the 1930s, was so iconic that this grandfather-like, rosy-cheeked, jolly individual immediately became the new standard for Kris Kringle. With special effects by the world-famous Industrial Light and Magic (the company behind the Star Wars films), the trucks this illustration was featured on also became an instant classic. This television advertisement has proven so popular that in the UK, after a six-year absence in 2007, the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck returned due to popular demand, as many consumers repeated that for them, seeing these trucks were synonymous with the beginning of Christmas.
After the launch of this commercial, Coca-Cola took advantage of the popularity and status it had received and began touring around several areas of the world during the Christmas season. EventRent, with a fleet of 19 trucks, enables these trucks to spread Christmas cheer during the holidays. Beginning their trip at the end of November and continuing up until Christmas, these trucks have attracted thousands on thousands, if not millions of visitors over the years. In the year 2018, the first event in Moers managed to attract between two and three thousand visitors alone. Those lucky enough to visit the trucks are given a free Coke and encouraged to participate in the various services and activities, that change every year, mixing traditions such as getting to meet Santa, with technological innovation, such as experiencing riding in Santa’s sleigh through virtual reality video, in order to make this an immemorable experience.
To bring this experience to another level, we sometimes resort to technology to make our Coca-Cola Christmas Truck even more magical. In December 2019, we added a new dimension: a VR sleigh. Using virtual reality combined with in-built hydraulics, visitors could climb into Santa’s sleigh, put on their VR glasses and feel as if they were flying along a winter wonderland. This sleigh could hold up to 20 people at once, making it a shared experience, fun for friends and family alike. This immersive experience allowed the young and old alike to feel like a child at Christmas-time.
Coca-Cola succeeds every year in making “the Christmas tour […] an enchanting Christmas world for all senses”. This is evident in the way that children and adults alike get swept up in the magic of the Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks, with some even waiting until their arrival for them to carry out their marriage proposals. Taking advantage of the fact that the venue is a truck and that they can move to whichever city they please, over the years they have also encouraged competitions where visitors can choose where the next location of the truck will be.
We’re also not immune to the infectious holiday cheer that the Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks bring with them. Every year we look forward to seeing the reactions of those who come in the truck and also being part of this Christmas event that has become so emblematic of the holiday season and its traditions. Seeing the joy that this brings every year reminds us how impactful experiences are an essential component of a roadshow, and how roadshows help in bringing this magic to the consumers.