Featured Project: Coke Refurbishes Billboard Celebrating the Birth of its Bottle

Coke Consolidated has been doing wall sign reconstruction since launching that program in 2011, often undertaking restoration projects in small towns.

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On one of its websites, called Coca-Cola Journey, the iconic soda company features an article about the creation of a three-story mural in Terre Haute, Indiana, which was the birthplace of its famous unusually-shaped bottle, which dates back to 1915. The city held a ceremony commemorating the unveiling of the sign in the summer of 2018.

Coke as a company has a tradition of restoring so-called “ghost signs,” and this location was particularly notable for its historic value, the company says. The company’s local bottler and distributor, Coca-Cola Consolidated, funded the restoration of the nearly-3,000-square-foot, three-story mural on one wall of the Vigo County Historical Museum in downtown Terre Haute. According to the story published on Coca-Cola Journey, “That’s where the Root Glass Co. patented the Coke bottle in 1915 after responding to the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company’s challenge to design a ‘bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground.'”

“Veteran muralists Jack Fralin and Bill Johnson spent three weeks painting the towering sign, as passers-by stopped to chat or snap photos.”

“When you’re doing these signs, it’s a communal affair,” Fralin, who has painted dozens of murals for Coca-Cola Consolidated, told the local newspaper, the Terre Haute Tribune Star. “People were driving by and honking horns and saying, ‘Way to go.'”

From the Coca-Cola Journey report: “The Vigo County Historical Museum building was built in 1895 to house Ehrmann Manufacturing. In the 1920s and ’30s, Coca-Cola leased wall space from the company for a series of murals which were eventually painted over.

“Fralin and Johnson-who sadly passed away days after finishing the projects-used historical photos of the signs to re-create a vintage panel on the mural’s south end, while a north section features the commemorative logo for the Coke bottle centennial.

“‘Our company has never painted anything larger than this in our history of over 116 years,'” emphasized Todd Marty, market unit vice president, Coca-Cola Consolidated.

“Coke Consolidated launched the ghost signs restoration project in 2011 to refresh old murals that had faded and bring them back to life. ‘They’re an important part of our history and the history of small towns and cities like Terre Haute,’ said Jennifer Richmond, director of state government affairs for Coca-Cola Consolidated.”

Painted wall signs were one of the earliest forms of Coca-Cola advertising, dating back to the 1890s. By 1910, the company was devoting 25 percent of its total marketing budget to wall signs.

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Tony Kindelspire

Tony Kindelspire is the digital content editor for RV PRO magazine. He was the former digital content editor of Sign & Digital Graphics & WRAPS magazines.

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