Everyone knows Santa Claus as jolly old, St. Nick. Every Christmas, he is celebrated all throughout the world. Many movies have starred Santa Claus, from Miracle at 34st to Tim Allen’s Santa Clause movies. But how did Santa Claus become the phenomenon that he is today? I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but it’s with MARKETING!
The American image of Santa Claus was first created by illustrator Thomas Nast, who depicted a stout Santa for Christmas issues of Harper’s magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s. It was still not part of American culture until the world’s biggest brand came along and decided to market Santa. Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola — that’s right Coca-Cola (the world’s most recognized brand) featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. D’Arcy Advertising Agency worked with The Coca-Cola Company on a campaign to show the wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom painted a plump old man with a white beard, wearing a red and white outfit.
The Coca-Cola Santa made its debut in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others. Coca-Colaadvertising showed Santa delivering and playing with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes.
Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on Coca-Cola’sadvertising. The red and white Coca-Cola colors worked seamlessly into the Santa campaign.
In short, to answer everyone’s question “Yes, I believe in Santa Claus.”
(for more information please visit the Coca-Cola website)