Holidays are coming! We’ve all seen them, and around this time of year it’s almost impossible to avoid them. Around this festive period every single business and company are fighting it out to try and create the top Christmas advertisement of the year. Companies throw thousands upon thousands into their advertising for the Christmas period in a bid to attract the most attention to their company or product. However, no matter how good the advertisement or how hard they try there is always one advertisement that sticks out at the top. That of course being the Coca Cola Christmas advertisement.
Many of us mainly associate the beginning of the festive period when the first Coca Cola Christmas Ad airs on the TV. For many people Coca Cola is the brand most associated with the Christmas period, this may be down to the fact they have been creating iconic Christmas advertisements since 1920.
The first ever Coca Cola Christmas campaign goes all the way back to 1920 when the red Santa clause first made an appearance in magazine advertisements. However this advertisement is very different from Christmas advertisements that Coca Cola are very famous for today. The famous Coca Cola Santa Claus we see later on in Coca Colas Christmas campaigns doesn’t resemble the one used way back in 1920.
In 1931 Coca Cola set out to re-invent their Christmas campaign, so they then approached the D’Arcy advertising agency where the Iconic red Santa we see today was born and was created by artist Haddon Sundblom for the 1931 ‘Thirst has No Season’ campaign. This was essentially the first influential Christmas ad by Coca Cola attracting a lot of attention turning it into a classic holiday brand. Haddon Sundbloms perception of the famous Santa Claus created the popularity surrounding the Coca Cola Christmas campaigns, increasing anticipation of their Christmas ads each year.
It is sometimes underestimated how influential coca cola have been over the years with their Christmas campaigns, their perception of the iconic red Santa Claus created by Sundblom very much painted a clear image of people’s perception of the Santa Claus that all children see today.
Sundblom created various advertisements of his iconic Santa Claus over several decades, establishing Coca Cola as one of the main festive brands. His last ever advertisement came in 1964. For decades after his last piece Coca Cola advertisements featured designs of the Santa Claus based on Sunbloms vision. Over the years Coca Cola have incorporated various other Christmas advertisements but in 1993 the Coca Cola polar bears made an appearance in their Christmas campaign. The famous Coca Cola polar bears have been about for some time they first were seen in magazine advertisements in 1922.
In 1993 The Coca Cola polar bears were brought back to life for a Christmas campaign by Ken Stewart who got the idea for the polar bears from his Labrador puppy that resembled a polar bear. Stewart brought the idea of the campaign to the animation company Rhythm & Hues who brought the animation of the Polar bears into the world and now the Coca Cola polar bears are one of their most famous advertising campaigns used by Coca Cola. Although they have been used by Coca Cola for nearly a hundred years they never featured in their Christmas campaign until 1993. It took over 12 weeks for the ‘Northern Lights’ campaign to be created and drawn up, for the advertisement to first be aired. In 2013 the polar bears yet again made a return to the Christmas advert with the ‘Open Happiness’ Christmas campaign with a short film created by Ridley Scott showing the popularity of the famous Coca Cola Polar Bears.
It is pretty obvious that these famous campaigns by Coca Colas have really established them as one of the main seasonal brands around the Christmas period. The creativity of their campaigns and the art involved has essentially created a vision of the certain aspects of the holiday itself. The campaigns in the past have set in stone Coca Cola’s position as a holiday brand, leaving people with the excitement of waiting to see their campaigns each year, and it is no surprise that their current campaign of the ‘Holidays are Coming’ trucks are also such a success.
The bright red Coca Cola Christmas trucks were first introduced in 1995 as part of the first ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advertisements created by George Lucas. To many when they first appear on our screens it marks the start of the festive period. The Holidays are Coming trucks are so popular they are broadcast to over 100 countries around the Christmas period making it the most widely used Christmas advertisement in history. In 2001 the trucks were used to bring back Sundbloms iconic Santa Claus imagine by having it featured in the 2001 advertisement on the side of the Coca Cola Christmas trucks incorporating the influence of the Santa Claus image created by Coca Cola. The holidays are coming campaign is such a massive success for Coca Cola that it is still the same campaign we see today. The advertisement is so popular to the Christmas period that they are even sent out to do tours of various countries attracting many visitors to go catch a glimpse and get pictures with the world famous trucks. Once we see that advertisement with those red trucks, Christmas has well and truly begun.
Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugh-dornan-60376a14b/