The Coca-Cola Company Santa Claus
The Coca-Cola Company is credited with creating the current image of Santa Claus we all love and are familiar with.
The Christmas advertisements from the Coca-Cola Companyare synonymous with Santa Claus and the Christmas holiday period. For many people today, the Christmas season hasn’t begun until they see their first Christmas themed Coca-Cola Company advert.
The famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus came to life in 1931 and was featured in widely viewed magazines of the time. This resulted in the popular image we now have of Santa Claus. A kind white haired, bearded and jolly man wearing a red suit.
The 1931 Coca-Cola Santa Claus was created by the Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom. Archie Lee of the D’Arcy Advertising Agency working with the Coca-Cola
Company wanted “a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic.”
Haddon Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore‘s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) for inspiration. Moore’s description of St. Nick was of a Santa who was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human.
In addition to Moore’s 1822 poem, an earlier illustration of Santa by the American Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast played a very import role. Nast’s 1862 interpretation of St. Nick for Harper’s Weekly had Santa Claus wearing a red suit which in turn inspired Sundblom to give Santa Claus his now famous red suit.
As the soft drink became more popular and its distribution spread around the world, the Coca-Cola Santa Claus became established as an international icon. Sundblom’s images of the North Pole’s most-famous resident remains the commonly accepted depiction of Saint Nicholas around the world, passing the test of time and evoking memories and a holiday spirit that transcends national boundaries.
“Perhaps most amazing is that the image of Santa Claus today grew from an unassuming effort to more-closely link soft drinks with the winter holidays,” said Philip Mooney, director of the Archives, The Coca-Cola Company. ”The Coca-Cola Company in those days viewed Santa as a perfect answer for making that connection. What happened from 1931 forward was part artistry, part marketing and part serendipity.”