Coca-Cola has launched its annual ‘Designated Driver’ campaign across the island of Ireland, encouraging drivers this Christmas to give the ‘Gift of a Lift’.
Coca-Cola has teamed up with pubs and restaurants across the country to offer consumers two free drinks from the Coca-Cola range if they choose to drive their friends on nights out and stay clear of alcohol.
Designated drivers can choose from Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Deep RiverRock, or Appletiser, at any participating pub or restaurant.
You can find out if your local is taking part by visiting the Designated Driver website.
This is the 14th year that the award-winning and extremely popular campaign has taken place in the Republic of Ireland, and its 12th year in Northern Ireland. Over that time, there has been an improvement in road safety at Christmas time. Last year, for example, there were 15pc fewer fatalities on Ireland’s roads compared to 2016.
Avoiding complacency is key, however, with statistics from the Road Safety Authority showing that alcohol remains a factor in a massive 38pc of fatal crashes in Ireland.
Last year, Coca-Cola donated more than 97,000 glass bottles of its various products to the Designated Driver campaign, with more than a million bottles consumed since the initiative began in the early 2000s.
To avail of the two free drinks from the Coca-Cola range at participating venues, all customers need to do is download a voucher from the Designated Driver website and present it to bar staff or simply present themselves as the designated driver to bar staff.
Research shows more than 51pc of 18 to 35-year-olds take on the role of designated driver at some point during the festive period. Through its Designated Driver campaign, Coca-Cola wants to encourage even more people to consider giving the gift of a lift to their friends and family.
Bloggers Niamh O’Sullivan, Conor Ryan, and Cool FM presenter Rebecca McKinney have all pledged to become designated drivers for a night during the campaign, as they aim to extend their influence to friends, family, social media followers and beyond.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, welcomed the return of the award-winning campaign.
“For many people, December will be a month of celebration - family get-togethers, parties and dinners with friends and work colleagues,” the Minister said.
"The way to ensure that the season remains festive and is not marred with needless tragedy is to plan ahead how you get to and from your Christmas event. If public transport isn’t an option, appoint a designated driver.
“This year Coca-Cola’s award-winning campaign returns to Ireland, with free soft drinks, water or juice to every designated driver in the country for the entire month of December. So please, don’t drink and drive.
“Travel with a designated driver and ensure you and your loved ones all get to 2019 safely.”
In the Republic of Ireland, the Designated Driver campaign is supported by An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority and Drinkaware.
It is also backed by the Licensed Vintners Association, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, and the Irish Hotels Federation.
“Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver ‘Gift of a Lift’ campaign contributes to the RSA’s aim of keeping the roads alcohol-free over the Christmas period and reminds us that it is important to think ahead when travelling to and from festivities,” added an RSA spokesperson.
“This is a very important initiative and we are delighted to have a popular brand such as Coca-Cola supporting these messages and suggesting safe alternatives of getting home after nights out.”
In Northern Ireland, the campaign is supported by the PSNI, Hospitality Ulster and the NI Hotel Federation.
“Our business takes immense pride in supporting road safety throughout the Christmas season,” added Matthieu Seguin, General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We are delighted to continue our support for designated drivers by providing free soft drinks from our range those who go the extra mile to ensure their loved ones get home safely.
“This year, we will also shine a light on the importance and generosity of designated drivers at Christmas time. This will be achieved through our social influencer strategy to make the campaign message more relevant and engaging for party-goers.”
Why not give take on the role of designated driver this Christmas and spread the important message of keeping our roads safe and alcohol free? Vouchers promising the ‘Gift of a Lift’ can be downloaded from the website and shared with friends and loved ones.
For more information and a list of participating outlets, visit the Designated Driver website.