Santa's Favourite DrinkPosted by Alex
It is often presumed that the modern image and perception of Santa was created and popularized through the Coca-Cola Company's advertising. Indeed, Coca-Cola takes the credit and as written on their website: ``Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola feature St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in 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 on our advertising.” (http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_santa.html)
However, Coca-Cola also admits that Santa's colours, which are identical to the brand's colours, were initially adopted by Coca-Cola from Thomas Nast's* illustrations, depicting his own interpretation of Santa. But later on, Haddon Sundbloom** created the jolly Santa we are all familiar with.
Coca-Cola was not the first beverage company to use that image of Santa for their advertisements. The White Rock Beverage Company (who used to dominate the beverage market) featured a very similar image of Santa early in the 1920s - a decade before Coca-Cola presented theirs. White Rock never claimed creating Santa's modern look and just seemed to be using a perception of Santa that was already established by that time. Just like Coca-Cola's Santa, White Rock's could be seen jolly, enjoying a drink, reading letters and bringing gifts.
Having Santa in Coca-Cola's ads served a very important purpose of inspiring people to buy the beverage in winter, conveying the message that it is good for all seasons. By that time, Santa was already a well-known and admired character that brought along only good associations. Using his character to promote winter sales was only natural. Many companies followed Coca-Cola's steps and adopted the lovable Santa for their own campaigns.
There is no doubt that Santa is a timeless icon and perhaps one of the best global brands out there. But even though we’ve all known Santa since our childhood, we will probably never know what his favourite drink is.
* A civil war cartoonist who worked for Harper's Weekly.
** An illustrator who painted Santa for Coca-Cola.