How Coca-Cola Uses Santa for a Branding Tool

cocacolaDid you ever stop to wonder just how much influence certain brands have over the way we live our lives? It’s easier to spot than you think—especially around the Holidays.

You need look no further than the evolution of Santa Claus and how he has been closely tied to Coca-Cola. This is a connection that has been taking place since the 1920s. And whether you know it or not, many of the things you think you know about Santa are actually from Coke’s branding.

In 1931, Coke started to place ads in popular magazines. These ads featured a Santa that was actually Santa and not just a man dressed as Santa. Back then, this was considered to be risky and quite cutting edge. For inspiration, the ad’s creators drew from the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which is better known as “The Night Before Christmas.” From the rosy cheeks to the jelly-like belly, the Coke ads stayed true to the poem.

Inspiration was also heavily drawn from oil paintings by a man named Sundblom, whom also based his popular Santa on “The Night Before Christmas.”

This design of Santa was first seen in The Saturday Evening Post and then later in The New Yorker and National Geographic.

It is this version of Santa that plush/stuffed Santas were based on, as well as almost any other Santa that appeared in other ads for other companies. Chances are that any jolly depiction of Santa Claus you have ever seen bears some semblance to the one that was present in these ads.

Some of the more classic depictions of Santa in these Coca-Cola ads show Santa peeking into people’s fridges to take a Coke rather than milk and cookies, or simply delivering toys merrily while sipping on a Coke.

Santa and Coke have shared ad space every year since 1931 and there are no signs of stopping. Don’t you wish you could use the Holiday seasons to bran your business so successfully?

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