‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Santa Claus at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Photo by Esha Samajpati. All rights reserved ©

Did you know that the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on Coca-Cola advertising?

Before the profiling by Coca-Cola, Santa’s appearances ranged from big, small, tall, fat, elf-like, bishop-like, gaunt, strict, spooky…and he wore everything from animal skin to a tan suit. Except for the color of his suit, the jolly old man owes much of his persona to the beverage giant. The traditional red coat has more to do with the imagination of Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast than with any brand color.

Back in the 1920s many people thought of Coca-Cola as a drink meant for warm weather. The 1922 slogan “Thirst Knows No Season” was followed by a campaign connecting Santa Claus with the beverage. The company tried to remind people that Coca-Cola was a great choice in any season and thus began the association of Claus and Coke.

An Excerpt From the Coca-Cola Website:

“Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic. In 1931, The Coca-Cola Company commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus – showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa. For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa —an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.”

From redefining an icon to getting on board the latest trend, the Coca-Cola Company is all about branding. Given the composition and benefit of the product, that’s the way to go!

The above is an excerpt from an old entry that previously appeared on my advertising blog

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Esha Samajpati
Esha Samajpati is an advertising professional turned travel writer.
Esha Samajpati

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