How Coca‑Cola HBC took to the road to uncover the island of Ireland’s Christmas traditions, while helping to keep roads safe this December.

Across Ireland and Northern Ireland, Coca‑Cola HBC has been helping to keep roads safe for more than a decade. By offering free soft drinks to designated drivers over the Christmas period, the Designated Driver campaign has become a well-known Christmas tradition, helping to reduce the incidents of drink driving, while rewarding loyal consumers. In 2016, the Irish team wanted to celebrate that achievement with a special campaign.

Ciara Cashen, Public Affairs and Communications Manager explained, “We sought to recognise the many designated drivers who enable a rich plethora of festive traditions, from trips to the local pub, to taking loved ones for a Christmas morning swim. So this December, we became the ‘Designated Driver of Christmas Traditions’ and embarked upon a journey across the country to uncover the many local customs that take place this time of year’.

With the exciting launch of Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar in our market, there was also an opportunity to increase awareness of this new and improved sugar-free recipe that looks and tastes more like Coca‑Cola Classic, with zero sugar. Ciara Cashen, Public Affairs and Communications Manager

Fronted by Ireland and Ulster rugby player Tommy Bowe and comedian Andrew Stanley, the call went out in November for the nation to share their traditions socially via #DesignatedDriver for a chance to win a visit from Coca‑Cola and a Christmas supply of Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar. The response was fantastic, and Coca‑Cola hit the road to capture just some of these special Christmas moments with our ambassadors.

Tommy Bowe was enthusiastic about the initiative from the outset saying, “We all take the turn to be the designated driver at some stage over Christmas so friends and family get around safely to enjoy their festive traditions. It’s an important role and I’m delighted to support this campaign by Coca‑Cola that supports and celebrates these drivers with free soft drinks in participating venues.

Taking to the road in a festively themed car, the first visit took a look at the unique custom of Christmas busking. After gathering at the much-loved Washington Inn pub in Cork, three local buskers took to the streets with our ambassador Andrew Stanley to bring some Christmas spirit to the streets of the city. The journey then continued to Belfast’s iconic Europa Hotel to visit Tommy Bowe and embark upon the search for a perfect Christmas jumper. The pair then continued to Dublin, where Tommy, along with some friends, bravely faced the icy Irish sea for his own personal festive tradition, the Christmas morning swim. Finally heading west, the journey concluded in Galway with a visit to the popular Christmas market.

At the official launch in Dublin Tommy said, “I’ve had lots of fun celebrating some typical Christmas traditions over the last few weeks, from Christmas jumper shopping to the classic Christmas swim. I hope it serves to remind everyone to cherish their own traditions, while keeping safe on the roads this December.”

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross also said, “I’m delighted to endorse the Coca‑Cola Designated Driver campaign this year, which supports our aim of keeping roads safe over the Christmas period. The campaign serves to remind the nation that it is important to take precautions getting to and from festivities, whether by appointing a designated driver or making other arrangements. I would like to thank Coca‑Cola for their contribution; celebrating and supporting those designated drivers who play a selfless role in keeping roads safe at Christmas time and around the year.”

Designated Driver campaign is supported by An Garda Síochána (Irish police body), the Road Safety Authority, Drinkaware, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It is also backed by a number of licensing, hotel, restaurants and hospitality bodies.

The campaign is now live in over 1000 pubs, restaurants and hotels nationwide with two FREE Drinks from the Coca‑Cola range, available for Designated Drivers. Vouchers can be downloaded via www.designateddriver.ie.