Great Ad 14: Santa Drinking Coca Cola Vintage Ads

Great Ad 14: Santa Drinking Coca Cola Vintage Ads

I always like Coca Cola’s Christmas TV commercials and print ads. With BigBearLodge’s sharing at YouTube, I learned that the big jolly Santa image was influenced and shaped by the soft-drink mogul. “Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based Coca-Cola advertising.”

In this beautiful produced video, BigBearLodge put together a collection of vintage advertisement of “Santa drinking Coca Cola” in the memory of her grandmother. Well, thanks to BigBearLodge’s efforts, I got to see these beautifully painted illustration for the very first time.

Appended is the original article penned by BigBearLodge published at YouTube

My Grandma loved Christmas Time. She was a very giving person. She also loved Coca-Cola too. She really loved the ads of “Santa drinking a Coca-Cola”…

**Coca-Cola and Santa Claus**

Most people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like — jolly, with a red suit and a white beard. But he did not always look that way, and Coca-Cola advertising actually helped shape this modern-day image of Santa.

2006 marks the 75th anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus. Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based Coca-Cola advertising.

Before the 1931 introduction of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall. Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.

Through the centuries, Santa Claus has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf. He has worn a bishop’s robe and a Norse huntsman’s animal skin. The modern-day Santa Claus is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries.

The Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red. Though some people believe the Coca-Cola Santa wears red because that is the Coke� color, the red suit comes from Nast’s interpretation of St. Nick.

The Coca-Cola Company began its Christmas advertising in the 1920s with shopping-related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. The first Santa ads used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.

At this time, many people thought of Coca-Cola as a drink only for warm weather. The Coca-Cola Company began a campaign to remind people that Coca-Cola was a great choice in any month. This began with the 1922 slogan “Thirst Knows No Season,” and continued with a campaign connecting a true icon of winter — Santa Claus — with the beverage.

In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world’s largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Mizen’s painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.

Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic. In 1931, The Coca-Cola Company commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa, as Mizen’s work had portrayed him.

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 Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa — an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.

From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering (and playing!) with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and even plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectibles.

The Coca-Cola Santa made its debut in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others. The instantly popular ad campaign appeared each season, reflecting the times. One ad even featured Santa in a rocket!

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[tags] Coca Coca Christmas Vintage Ads, great ads, ads with few words, ads with strong imagery, ads with painted picture[/tags]


6 Replies to “Great Ad 14: Santa Drinking Coca Cola Vintage Ads”

  1. Vivienne Hi!
    It’s a great piece of information. Santa brings lot of joy in our lives. It’s a tribute to know the people who gave life to this great Legend.
    I really like the ideation behind creating a personality like Santa Claus. Great indeed!

    Thanks & Regards

  2. Hi Versa,

    Thanks to you and BigBearLodge for sharing the ads and the article. I love vintage advertising and these were great.

  3. Thanks for this- it’s great to hear a bit about the history behind such an advertising sensation. The Coca Cola adverts are surely amongst the most famous in existence and rightly so in my opinion. Although I agree with Vivienne that the most recent campaigns haven’t quite lived up to Coca Cola’s high standards, if the campaign is considered in its entirety it’s undeniably impressive. I think that perhaps the most lucrative move by the brand was to target the Christmas market. As you say, before this most people had seen Coca Cola as a summer drink, but by associating it so effectively with the festive season the company have succeeded in establishing Coca Cola as a year round drink. I imagine that this increased profits dramatically! The tie in with the festive season was definitely a clever move; the ads have become something of an institution in Britain with many claiming that Christmas has not started properly until they have seen a Coca Cola commercial on TV. Coca Cola has got to be one of the best examples of how to brand and advertise a product- other companies should take note!

  4. Hi Ian – In Asia, Coke doesn’t just fly off the shelves during Christmas. Another period that people will cart home cartons after cartons will be Chinese New Year. Drinking coke is a daily thing here. Hopefully, one day, Coke will design a Christmas Ad for it’s tropic fans and that would really really be interesting.

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