Santa Claus is the real thing*...or is he?

I can remember years ago being on a marketing course and the subject of advertising influencing, informing and shaping popular culture (and vice versa) was discussed. One of the examples quoted was that Coca-Cola was responsible for the modern day imagery associated with Santa Claus.

I didn’t really think too much about this at the time and always took it at face value and presumed it to be true. However a discussion at DWH towers around the general commercialisation of Christmas and the expectations of our children (iPads, bikes, Cosmo Robots, skateboards) compared to us as children (satsumas, lumps of coal, only 3 TV channels, etc) brought us to this very subject. Fact or urban myth?


Santa Claus sorting out the facts from the fiction

Since I went on that marketing course I’ve learned that conventional wisdom isn't always right so we thought we’d check out the facts or the fiction around this. By the way this isn’t an attempt to jam lots of Xmas related hashtags into our social media in December under the guise of a relevant blog at all. No sireee..


Santa Claus the advert

Isn’t the Internet fab? We instantly find the answer direct from the horse's mouth. Well Coca Cola to be precise. Saved us minutes of tireless work. According to them:

“In 1931 the company began placing Coca-Cola ads in popular magazines. Archie Lee, the D'Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the campaign to show a wholesome Santa who was both realistic and symbolic. So Coca-Cola 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 a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa. (And even though it's often said that Santa wears a red coat because red is the color of Coca-Cola, Santa appeared in a red coat before Sundblom painted him.)”

If you want to know more there’s a great blog on their website “5 Things You Never Knew About Santa Claus and Coca-Cola

Further Xmas mythbusting

This article in the Guardian is also worth a look if you want to hear about 9 other Christmas myths. “Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa ... the 10 biggest Christmas myths debunked

About DWH


When we’re not blogging about Santa we help lots of clients achieve their marketing, design, product and branding goals. With over 15 years of experience we can offer a full range of creative design and marketing expertise. We've worked for a wide range of clients from start-ups and charities to public sector and FTSE 100 companies.

Drop us a line - we’re approachable, friendly, professional and are more than happy to meet for a chat to see if we can help you.

About the author


Jonathon Bright is the DWH marketing guru and handles all marketing, copywriting and social media duties.

With over 25 years experience working with clients and agencies across the globe, his role is to provide all things marketing from lead generation strategies right through to writing blogs and press articles. With two Marketing degrees and a successful track record of working with sole traders, SME's & FTSE 100 companies his full mix experience can deliver results whatever the budget.

*Santa Claus is obviously a real person. This is a very small joke based on a famous Coke advertising campaign “The Real Thing”. See this “vintage” ad from the 70’s on You Tube .

We just thought we’d make this clear to any children who may have stumbled across this blog. If you have Santa is real, we’re talking about his outfit not the big guy himself.