Use of Familiar Stories
Ever since that first holiday magazine ad Coca Cola have always played off of familiar stories that their customers will not only recognise, but also relate to as well. To bring this Santa to life, Haddon Sundblom, an illustrator who got his start painting pin up girls, used Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem a visit from St Nicholas for inspiration.
Coca cola had released adverts with Santa before but that depiction wasn’t the warm and friendly Santa we all know now. Sundblom changed that. Sundblom went on to create Coca cola holiday ads featuring Santa until 1964. Towards the end of these ads he started to use himself as the model for Santa. This not only shaped Coca cola as a holiday brand, but it also shaped this particular Santa that is recognised around the world today.
Coca Col Referencing Pop Culture
Coca Cola was originally only consumed from fountains, but in 1928 drinking from bottles began making its way into homes. By 1937 Coca Cola bottles had truly risen to popularity, so naturally the holiday ad campaign featured that familiar Santa drinking Coke from a bottle in front of the fridge.
A few of the holiday ads featured Santa with popular toys gifted to children. For example, the 1936 campaign showed Santa with an electric toy train. As new toys trended, Coca cola made sure to place them alongside Santa and of course a Coke.
This was the case in the 1962 holiday ad campaign which also included an electric toy helicopter. Along with the Coca Cola bottles and trendy toys, Santa himself became a pop culture icon after the first decade or so of the holiday magazine ads.
Use of Current Events
As Americans were recovering from the Great Depression, Coca Cola used their 1938 holiday ad campaign to remind them of enjoyment by way of Santa enjoying a Coke with a youngster in his arms. As Americans were preparing for World War 2, Coca Cola used their 1943 holiday ad campaign to support the war effort by way of showcasing Santa with a coke in one hand and his toy sack over his shoulder filled with war bonds.
Even as Americans were coming home from World War 2, Coca Cola yet again took advantage of this current event with their 1945 holiday ad campaign showcasing Santa coming back to a welcoming home complete with a note and a Coke.
While we all know there were far more economical, political and social events that were taking place between 1931 and 1964 other than the Great Depression and World War 2, they weren’t included in the Coca Cola holiday magazine ads. The Coca Cola company and D’Arcy Advertising Agency chose to keep the ads classic and focused on their products in conjunction with Sana as well as children and toys from time to time.
The familiar story of Santa, the pop culture shift from soda fountains to bottles and inclusion of trending toys as well as current events such as the Great Depression and World War 2 all helped shape Coca Cola as the classic holiday brand.
With each annual holiday ad campaign, Coca Cola has built a connection to their audience with something that hits home thereby making their product one that was bought and taken home. To this day, when many see Santa drinking a coke in a magazine or on the side of a delivery truck or on a can, they know the holidays are here.