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Santa sees Red

Words by:
Partner and Head of Creative
December 17, 2021

St Nicholas traditionally was always portrayed as a mythical character dressed in dark green and was more likely to be seen wandering aimlessly around a forest setting with firewood in his arms than presents. So, when did he change into his famous red coat, with a welcoming glow, and become the universally recognised image we know so well today?

Many people still believe that Coke is responsible for inventing his persona, dressing him in their trademark red and white colours to push their own brand marketing strategies in 1930s America. The reality is Coke didn’t create the famous Santa Claus image but nevertheless took full advantage of the colour red being aligned with their own.

Santa Claus in his many forms, has been a prominent figure of Western folklore for centuries, inspired by numerous historical and mythical figures including the Christian Bishop “St Nicholas of Myra” – a monk living around 280AD in what is now Turkey.

The modern-day image of Father Christmas was popularised in Victorian times by poems and short stories. The cartoonist Thomas Nast did a huge amount to spread the modern characteristics of Santa in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, as part of a large illustration titled ‘A Christmas Furlough’. There are also numerous popular depictions of him wearing red with his large white beard in the 19th century including advertising campaigns for the US Confection Company’s Sugar Plums, as well as being featured on the cover of humour magazine Puck.

 

 

During 1931, Coca Cola commissioned a Swedish-American illustrator called Haddon Sundblom to create an oil painting of Santa Claus drinking a coke on Christmas Eve. Based on the Cement Clarke Moor poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ published in 1822, he gave him a huge white beard, rosy cheeks and a fuller figure.

Though the Sundblom image of Santa wasn’t what the public was used to at the time, it quickly became an iconic image, replicated by writers, filmmakers, and artists throughout the world. People everywhere were keen to embrace this new idea of a playful, fun, and welcoming Father Christmas. With a little brand know-how, Coca-Cola was ableto associate itself with the joy of Christmas turning it into the definitive iconic Santa we know and love today.

Today, colour continues to be a vital aspect in the recognition of a company, along with your image, personality and the way you communicate with your customers it plays a huge role in how you are perceived. Brand engagement begins by creating something your customers feel compelled to connect and associate with.

Our skills lie in making the most of what you stand for and to make the most of your personality. Over the past few years, we have seen brands having the confidence to flex their colours to get behind movements such as LGBTQ or offer support to the likes of our NHS. It appears a simple thing, but colour can say such a lot about who you are.

Please contact Creative if you wish to explore how your own company or organisation can have more impact that’s not just for Christmas.

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