Santa's Secret

by Blake Howard    December 17, 2013

Have you ever wondered how Santa got his signature red suit?


Did you know prior to the 1930s Kris Kringle didn’t quite look like the Santa we know today? He was portrayed as everything from a tall slender man to a  spooky looking pro North elf (during the Civil War) to a nomad with an assortment of colored clothes. Nowhere to be found was the rosy-cheeked, white-bearded man in a red suit with a gold buckle that we’ve all come to love. That’s because the modern day Santa Claus we know and love was invented as a brilliant branding & advertising strategy by The Coca-Cola Company.

In 1931, Coca-Cola enlisted the help of illustrator Haddon Sunblom and ad man Archie Lee to develop the modern day Santa. Their depiction was of a warm, friendly, human, with a pleasantly plump character (incredibly ironic). He just so happened to be sporting the signature Coca-Cola red in his get-up.

The popularity of the Coca-Cola ads for nearly a century have standardized the way we think of jolly ole’ Saint Nick. Shocking, I know. Conspiracy theorist everywhere can rejoice. More than conspiracies, this is the pinnacle of what’s possible when a brand owns a single color.

Could Pepsi have dreamt such a brilliant idea? Maybe Santa could have been half blue and the other half red, like a Garth Brooks album.

Brands are evolving like never before and breaking new ground as they go, but one thing still rings true: own a signature color. It’s better than a Nintendo 64 on Christmas morning.

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