In July 1946, this billboard had its debut. (And, yes, it is actually called "Yes Girl"!)

Coke_yes_girl_imageOur first Coca-Cola billboard, "Ritz Boy," appeared in 1925. It showed a bellhop carrying a tray with a bottle of Coke on it, with the text of "6,000,000 a day." (Think about that: We sold 6 million drinks per day in 1925, when in 1886 we only sold nine drinks a day!)

The next year, the first "Coca-Cola girl" billboard appeared. I know today we would never use a term like "Coca-Cola girl," but that is what they were called, and what collectors and those who study Coke's artwork still call the women who appeared in our early ads. I didn't come up with the name!

Early Coke billboards won awards and honors year after year in annual competitions. By 1959, in 27 years of competition, 86 Coca-Cola billboards (an average of more than three each year) had been picked as among the "100 Best Posters of the Year." The winners included this famous "Yes Girl" image, which remains a milestone of poster design.

The artwork was painted by Haddon Sundblom, the famed illustrator who also created the Coca-Cola Santa Claus and Coke's Sprite Boy.

Sundblom was one of Coca-Cola's most prolific artists, painting everything from soda-fountain scenes to bathing beauties. During his peak period in the 1940s, he created at least half of all the Coke billboard art.

Do you have a favorite Coke billboard or "Coca-Cola girl" image?