Innovation Blog

Why is Santa Claus Always Dressed in Red?

By Shlomo Maital

    Today, Dec. 25, Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas.  It’s a perfect day to ask the enormously important question:

     Why is Santa Claus always dressed in red, with white trimming?

     The answer is simple:  Coca Cola!

 

BBC’s news magazine reports that:

Coca-Cola’s involvement kicks in in the early 1930s when Swedish artist Haddon Sundblom started drawing ads for Coke featuring a fat Santa in a red coat trimmed with fur and secured with a large belt.  His drawings were used in the company’s festive advertisements for the next 30 years, well and truly cementing the image.   

    According to Cass Business School (London) Professor Vincent Mitchell,  Coca Cola achieved several goals with this clever marketing campaign.  First, to get people to drink Coke in the winter (it was previously regarded solely as a summer drink). Second, to make the image of Coca Cola younger and attract young people to drink it.   Third, to associate Coke with the happy fun-loving image depicting enjoyment and fun — a branding tactic that continues consistently to this day. 

    Prior to Coke’s ads, Santa Claus appeared in a variety of colors — red, green, brown, blue, white….   After the ads, the ‘authentic’ Santa dressed solely in red with white trim. 

    Coke changed the nature of Christmas, not just the image of Santa.  Prior to the Coke ads, Santa had a rather stern aspect, admonishing children that those who failed to be good would not get presents.  The Coke ads stressed the presents-without-strings aspect of Santa, making Santa obese, jolly, good-natured and the farthest thing possible from a moral figure.

   

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