Politician Wants to Ban Coca-Cola from Handing Out Free Drinks at Christmas

Liverpool councillor Richard Kemp has called Coca-Cola’s promotional Christmas truck tour a “cynical event” and “designed to increase the consumption of a product that is grossly unhealthy.”

by Phoebe Hurst
31 October 2017, 1:13pm

Photo via Flickr user Pauls Imaging Photography

Whether you like aggressive consumerism and sugar-saturated soft drinks or not, you have to admit that the Coca-Cola Christmas truck advert is a feat of emotive advertising. Those illuminated lorries with their red-and-white logos driving through idyllic winter landscapes, Santa Claus enjoying an ice-cold bottle, the infectious "Holidays are coming/Holidays are coming" jingle—it's enough to make Marx himself reach for a can of Diet Coke.

The adverts first hit British television screens in 1995; the brainchild of ad agency W.B. Doner and brought to life by the special effects team behind Star Wars. In 2011, the company decided to recreate the Coca-Cola Christmas truck IRL, taking a fleet of lorries on tour around the country, stopping at prominent city centre locations and handing out free mini cans of fizzy drink. This has happened every year since and according to the drinks giant, "Each year, the truck tour feels bigger and better, and needless to say the day doesn't disappoint."

But in 2017, however, things might be a little disappointing. Liverpool MP Richard Kemp has made a public call for the Coca-Cola truck to be banned in the city, as it finds itself "in the grip of an obesity epidemic."

As the Liverpool Echo reports, Kemp wrote to Liverpool One, the city's main shopping centre, to ask whether it would be hosting the promotional truck this year. The centre has seen visits from Coca-Cola for the past five Christmases, but Kemp believes that this year should be different.

He wrote: "You are probably aware that Liverpool is in the grip of an obesity epidemic for children and adults. 30 percent of our 11-year-olds are obese. The biggest single cause of this is the consumption of fizzy drinks. That is why I am appalled that there is a rumour going round that you will welcome the Coca-Cola van to Liverpool."

Kemp added that the truck's visit to Liverpool is a "cynical event" and "not designed to welcome Christmas but to increase the consumption of a product that is grossly unhealthy."

While Kemp's concerns over the city's obesity problem echo recent data from Imperial College London revealing that the number of overweight children is rising dramatically, his comments haven't been accepted by all, with some on social media accusing him of having a Scrooge-like attitude towards festive fun. A Twitter user named Hayley tweeted: "You might as well just cancel xmas! #bahhumbug Calls to ban Coca-Cola Christmas truck from Liverpool" and Chris Appleton‏ asked: "why ban the Coca Cola truck. when I see it I don't think " ah I need a coke " I feel festive that Christmas is coming #killjoys."

Liverpool local Cathy McAlle went so far as to tweet Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, imploring: "Please don't let a miserable few spoil the joy of many in seeing the @CocaCola Truck in Liverpool!! There are choices people can make to drink, ever heard of #DietCoke or #CokeZero?"

Liverpool One was not able to comment or confirm whether it would be hosting the Coca-Cola truck this year. In response to Kemp's comments, a Coca-Cola spokesperson told the Liverpool Echo: "The Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour provides a moment of fun for everyone in the build-up to Christmas and we've had a positive response from many people in Liverpool when we visit each year."

The holidays (might not be) coming.