Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coca-Cola Shakes It Up For The Holidays

Did you know that Coca-Cola actually created the modern day image of Santa Claus?

Back in the 1920s, the Coca-Cola Company was having difficulty selling its soft drink during the winter months. So, to soften the seasonality of their product, they hired Haddon Sundblom, a successful commercial artist at D'Arcy Advertising, to create an ad campaign for them.

From the late 1930s until the mid-1950s Haddon created cuddly Santas in Coca-Cola advertising that were the spitting image of a salesman friend of his. Later when that friend passed away, Sundblom stood in front of a mirror and began to paint an image of himself. Standing on Santa's side was Mrs. Claus, who looked just like Haddon's wife. Both were adorned in red and white, the corporate colors of Coca-Cola.

Haddon's image of Santa was so successful that by the 1940s, it had become the essence of Santa Claus all over the United States. 
  • He was the Santa used in the 1947 move, Miracle on 34th Street.
  • He rode the Norelco shaver in Christmas commercials.
  • He was on the front of Hallmark card after Hallmark card.
  • He even became known as the Salvation Army Santa.
Haddon's image lives on in every element of Christmas we see today. And to this day, no one - and I mean no one - has created a more endearing image of Santa than Coca-Cola.

In this year's holiday commercial, Coca-Cola brings that quintessential image of Santa back into our homes and into our lives.  Featuring the Train song, "Shake Up Christmas," Santa shakes his magic snow globe, helping to push people towards each other at the holidays. An adorable puppy slides into the arms of a delighted young boy. Two young people sitting miles apart on a bench slide towards each other and embrace. A store clerk takes an adventurous shop cart ride through the city to arrive just in time for family dinner. Santa smiles because all is well.

Open happiness ... brought to all, complements of Coca-Cola.


  1. I didn't know that! Thanks for the post, I'll have to share it with my kids. (They love that commercial.)

    Paula McKinney

  2. I think it's a great story too, Paula!

  3. While I love the Sundblom Santa, it's not true that he created the image. Thomas Nast actually created the visual of the Santa we all know and love. Under Sundblom's pen he got taller and perhaps a bit softer is all.

  4. Interesting fact. My source was "20 ads that shook the world." It appears a few people may have their facts wrong! Thanks for the clarification.


Sue Northey - Find me on Bloggers.com