Everybody knows the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck. But what about the driver behind the wheel? To mark the return of our annual Designated Driver campaign, we spent some time getting to know Paul, our very own festive hero and designated driver.
Here’s one designated driver that most Coke fans would happily trade places with, at least for the duration of the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour. Paul is the man at the wheel of the iconic truck as it makes its festive way around the UK. We caught up with him to find out how he got the role and what it’s like to drive one of the world’s most recognised vehicles.
How did you become the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck driver?
I was in the right place at the right time. I was employed by the company who own the truck, and when the opportunity to drive it came up I jumped at the chance. I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years. I previously worked as a multi-drop delivery driver. You could say I’ve been a Santa Claus in training, bringing people their parcels and putting a smile on their faces.
Do you remember the first time you saw the 'Holidays Are Coming' ad?
Yes! The advert is absolutely iconic, and always has been. I have two kids and they both love the advert. They’re proud to be able to say their dad is the driver of the Coca-Cola Truck. It’s been on screen for 21 years now and it’s still really close to the nation’s hearts. These days people ask me when it’ll be back on TV, as for them it marks the start of their countdown to Christmas.
Is driving the Coca-Cola Truck your main job?
I work on fabricating promotional stands and vehicles during the other 11 months, but it’s fair to say driving the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck is the highlight of my year. It’s a real honour to help the nation get excited for Christmas and see the truck bringing festive joy to all the towns along the route.
Did you ever see yourself driving the iconic truck?
Well, I’ve always wanted to be a truck driver. I’m 40 years old now and I’ve loved trucks all my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else. As for driving the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck, it’s an honour and I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunity. I’ve driven professionally for years but driving the truck is a whole different experience, because of the way people react to it.
What’s your favourite thing about driving the truck?
I never get tired of people’s reactions when they see it. People stop and point when they see the truck, and other drivers beep their horns to say hello. It’s a real icon. I spend time chatting to the local community at each stop. Many of them have had the Truck Tour dates on their calendars for weeks, and often the adults are just as excited as the youngsters. It’s really a magical moment for people when they see the truck arrive in their town, as it feels like Christmas has arrived.
What’s your favourite part of the big day?
On Christmas Day I like being able to relax and spend time with people I’m close to. After the tour I will be heading home to spend Christmas with my family and friends. It’s nice to have a break but it won’t be long until I’m counting down the days till next year’s tour.
What’s your best tip for drivers at Christmas time?
Take breaks, especially if you’re driving a long distance. I drive for an allocated number of hours each day and take regular breaks so I don’t get tired. And if you’re going on a night out, choose a designated driver who will get you home safely, and treat them to something nice in return – like a free Coca-Cola. Many pubs and bars are currently offering a free second soft drink as part of Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver scheme, which is essentially a buy one get one free offer.
If you could have a ‘truckload’ of something, what would it be?
Coca-Cola, of course!
What’s your most memorable moment on the Truck Tour so far?
We’ve had a few marriage proposals over the years, which are always special moments. And it’s always brilliant when the truck comes to a town for the first time. But I don’t think I could pick a stand-out favourite. Every stop has its own magical atmosphere, and no two are the same.
Tell us some insider facts about this year’s tour.
The Truck Tour is in its sixth year in the UK, and there are 44 stops this year. There’s a special experience for people to explore after dark, which includes an amazing projection on the side of the truck with everybody’s tweets from the #HolidaysAreComing hashtag via @CocaCola_GB.
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