|Christmas with Coca Cola
Coke Ads, 1940's - 1960's
For years now, Coca Cola has encouraged the story that the
image of Santa as we know it today - jolly, chubby,
white-bearded, rosy-cheeked and red-suited - is thanks to Coca
Cola's marketing department. Their claim that Coke was the first
soft drink company to use this version of Santa in an
advertisement (in 1931) is vigorously disputed by the White
Rock Beverage Company of Whitestone, New York.
White Rock, who, by the way, is still in business, would
appreciate receiving credit for that honor. Their first ad
depicting our modern-day Santa, though not done in color, ran
in 1915 and more followed. Then, in 1923, eight years before
Coke's first Santa ad, they ran the image on the left, advertising
White Rock Ginger Ale, and featuring today's popular version of
Santa - red suit and all.
But, neither company is responsible for creating the image of
the Santa we know so well. Credit for that goes to Thomas Nast,
an illustrator for Harper's Weekly from the mid-to-late 1800's. As
far as anyone can determine, it was Mr. Nast who first depicted
Santa as we think of him today.
In fairness to Coke, however, it can be said that, due to the
sheer scale of its marketing campaigns for the past eighty years,
no other company has done as much to popularize today's image
of Santa as it has.
So, long live Coca Cola. And long live Santa...the rosy-cheeked,
white-bearded, chubby, red-suited one. -- Nancy