If there’s someone who is readily recognized in every Christmas celebration around the world, it’s got to be the jolly, good ol’ Santa Claus. His distinct red suit, white beard, and brown sack of gifts have been the subject of many fascinating vintage ads, including the ones from popular soda brand Coca-Cola!
After I had recently written about wanting to have some Vintage Santa Claus Postcards, dudizm gave me a tip and said I should try looking at the Coca Cola advertisement archives to find more Santa Claus-related stuff. Why of course, how could I forget about that? I was no stranger to the famous soda company’s equally famous Santa Claus print ads and commercials that appear as early as November.
But you know what’s the interesting connection between Father Christmas and Coca-Cola? There used to be an urban legend that the beverage company actually invented the Santa Claus that we see today, and he wears red and white to carry and promote the colors of the Coca-Cola brand. However, a few years ago, the company denied 'bottling' the said Santa image, saying that the “red-clad Santa actually dates to the 1800s, when illustrator Thomas Nast depicted him that way in Harper’s Weekly.”
However, it’s also not entirely false. Many argue that Coca-Cola was still instrumental in changing the way Americans (and perhaps the rest of the world as well) perceive the jolly Father Christmas. In the 19th century, many images of Saint Nicholas depict a rather lean and glum Santa, and often wearing other colors like green and brown. But, when illustrator Haddon Sundblom joined Coca-Cola in 1931, he began creating advertising images of Santa Claus as “Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa,” as artists before him had done.
According to The Coca Cola Company's Coke Lore, Sundblom reportedly got his inspiration from “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” a poem by Clark Moore from 1822, better known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The description of St. Nicholas became the foundation for the Santa that we know today—“warm, friendly, pleasantly plump, and human.” These wonderful advertisements, which ran until 1964, eventually graced magazine pages, billboards, store displays, calendars, posters, and many others, and are now considered collectibles and valuable memorabilia.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some more of these beautiful vintage Santa Claus ads from Coca-Cola!