The history of Santa/Sinterklauss/Kris Kringle/Santa/ Basil of Caeserea is well documented and well, known, so I wont go into it too much, save to direct you towards every lazy persons favourite answer to actually learning things Wikipedia. Also, googling St Nicholas brings up images almost solely of red dressed old dudes, sporting the hot red look way earlier than Coke started using him in their commercials in the 30s. (I also just cannot get the image of Lady Whiteadder from Blackadder 3rd out my head when I see them but that's just me i think) ANYHOW it's pretty much pointless to argue that they've hijacked what everyone round the world thinks Santa looks like for that last 70 odd years.
The iconic Coke Santa was drawn by a Michigan born illustrator Haddon Sundblom in 1931. Using Clement Clark Moore's famous 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' poem as inspiration he went with the contemporary idea of the time - made popular incidentally by Thomas Nash, a 19th century political cartoonist - that he was a clinically obese gouty old man in a red coat.. previously it have been brown, tan, furs... he was skinny, he was a weird looking goblin... None of these things sell tasty beverages though. So popular however was Haddon's work that people started to believe he'd created Santa from scratch. That's some pretty impressive brand power. Was it coincidence that Coke's colours are red? They say it was on their website ( 'Cokelore? COKELORE?! jesus) Id have liked to have been in the ad agency meeting (I am absolutely convinced it would look like a scene from Mad Men with a lot of smoking and awesome women in shit hot dresses) when they premiered the paintings though - i doubt if he's been dressed in mauve they'd have gone for it.
More importantly though, Sundblom went on to do some cracking pin up work. Santa really should have looked like this.
Coke basically had the image of Santa sewn up from then on - and we all lived happily merrily after, waiting with baited breath for that FUCKING AWFUL 'Holiday's are comin'!' advert that crops up every October heralding the dawning of the birth of a new king... sorry, more epic sales of Coke round the world. (Apart from Sweden where its outsold by Julmust.)
And that's that yep? Well, I've just been introduced to this piece of genius from Quiet Room, which,yeah, ok not the kind of thing you'd normally find us linking to... but bear with me...
To anyone that's ever worked in the world of media and 'creatives' where nothing whatsoever matches the sheer impressiveness of the vague, bullshit utterly ridiculous language used - then this will be something of Christmas treat. Scarily, and sadly I've had illustration briefs that really do sound like this.
*Santa* is a Concept, not an idea. It’s an
Emotion, not a feeling. It’s both Yesterday
and Today. And it’s Tomorrow as well.
*Santa* winds inﬁnite Possibilities around
ﬁnite Limitations to evoke the essence
of invention and the Odour of Nostalgia.
It has the complexity of Simpleness and
the Simplicity of complexitiveness. It begins
with the Hiss of Power and ends with the
Ah of Surprise. *Santa* is.
Ah music to my ears. Read the whole thing here and revel in some festive branding pisstaking that is genuinely funny and for once doesn't come from Coke.....Merry Christmas kidz! xxxx