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Did Coca Cola Invent Santa Claus?
Santa’s true origins are a mix of traditions and inspirations.
Initially, the focus on Christmas and Santa had little to do with the heartwarming connotations the brand banks on today.
It had a much more straightforward marketing goal – convince people to drink Coca Cola in the winter.
Back then, Coca Cola was known as a refreshing drink best enjoyed in hot weather. Early Christmas ads included the slogan “Thirst knows no season.”
Santa Goes Viral
Lots of outlets claim Coca Cola was behind the modern image of a jolly, rotund Santa – and that his red and white suit matching the brand’s colors is no coincidence. The internet fact-checking site Snopes refutes this claim, with multiple examples of jolly and red-and-white Santas from earlier in the century.
Yet while Coca Cola didn’t create the Santa we know today, there’s no denying it played a major role in popularizing the image.
Santa was part of a major marketing push that thrust him into the holiday narrative. Coca Cola’s efforts extended well beyond print ads to include store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and plush dolls.
Often, the brand that pushes something into the mainstream is not the creator. This happens on social media almost every day, when established or longstanding things go viral and suddenly become part of our shared culture.