LinkedIn: Kristopher Krupke
Was Santa Claus created by Coca Cola? A previous professor of mine had me read a book with a very negative outlook on consumerism and marketing within our American culture. It was called “Perspectives On Contemporary Issues” by Katherine Ackley. The book referenced a man named James Twitchell. This man claimed that Santa Claus was created by Coca Cola.
“The jolly old St. Nick that we know from countless images did not come from folklore, nor did he originate in the imaginations of Moore and Nast. He comes from the yearly advertisements of the Coca Cola Company. He wears the corporate colors – the famous red and white – for a reason: he is working out of Atlanta, not out of the North Pole,” (Twitchell).
When I first read this book I was blown away that Coca Cola could really create such an influential figure within our society and it almost ruined the tradition for me. Now that I am taking marketing 420 I thought it would be a good time to get to the bottom of this dispute.
Coca Cola reassures us that they did not create the story of Santa Claus, but they did help shape the modern image that we all know and love. During the 1920’s there were many different images of Santa Claus because he represented a number of different stories from different countries. Back then Santa was seen wearing a variation of colors from red to green and even brown. Santa also ranged in sizes from big to small. The modern day image of Santa was created in 1931 for a coke advertisement in order to boost sales during the winter months. This image stuck with consumers and created the modern day image we see today. From then on Santa Claus has become a huge part of Coke’s brand. Some people argue that it was one of the most successful brand promotions in history.
It is interesting to me how a short term sales promotion idea can turn into one of the most well-known brand promotions we’ve seen. We can all rest assured that Santa was not made up so that we would buy Coca Cola, but the simple fact that brands truly do help shape our culture just shows us how important and influential marketing really is.
Ackley, Katherine A. “You Are What You Buy.” Perspectives On Contemporary Issues. 5th Ed. Ed Maureen Staudt, Michael Stranz. Mason, Ohio, 2009.
Twitchell, James B. “Twenty Ads That Shook the World.” New York: Crown Publishers, 2000.