When you think of Santa Claus you usually picture a jolly old man in a red and white jacket with a fluffy white beard. What many people don’t realise is that the origin of this Santa was actually painted by the illustrator Haddon Sundblom and has become the image that we are most familiar with today. While Coca-Cola had previously commissioned pictures to be drawn, it was Sundblom’s vision of Santa Claus that has become the most iconic. He continued to draw these pictures for Coke for over thirty years.
Coca-Cola has been featuring jolly old Santa in their ads since the 1920’s and has even helped to shape his very image. Some even go as far as to say that Coca-Cola were instrumental in dressing Santa in the traditional red and white clothing to mirror the brand image of Coke. While this may be a disputed claim, there is no doubting that the Santa and Coke history has been intertwined for almost a century.
For so many of us, the flashing lights of the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks are an essential part of getting into the Christmas spirit. The classic TV ad first appeared over 20 years ago on our screens but fell into disuse in 2001 after a restructure that meant all advertising campaigns would be produced locally for each country.
The ‘Holidays are coming’ campaign featured the famous red Coca-Cola delivery trucks decorated with Christmas lights driving through the snowy hills of Germany. As the truck passes through the town it causes the Christmas lights to turn on and shine with people watching in amazement. By 2007, Coca-Cola reintroduced the campaign back on to TVs around the globe. It is really quite amazing how successful this relatively simple advert has been and still stands the test of time today. In fact, in the UK, the truck has its very own nationwide tour, handing out free samples and opportunities to take pictures with the iconic vehicle.
Last week, Coca-Cola released its newest packaging which allows the owner to transform the bottles label into a festive bow. While these are limited edition and only available in selected markets I think it is another ingenious way to strengthen the products ties to Christmas. The new packaging has already created quite a buzz on social media with users posting their festive bows adoring their Christmas trees.
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School