Coca Cola, The King Of Christmas Advertising

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 –


Is The Rapid Rise Of The Gin Industry Killing Traditional Drinking Cultures?

As I am sure you know over the last 5 years the gin industry has taken a rapid rise seeming to come completely out of nowhere. It is no surprise that the rise of the industry itself is seen as nothing short of a miracle for distilleries large or small. More and more people are being seen to spend more and buying big on premium brands of alcohol. Now more than ever, people are less likely now to go for a standard bottle of wine or beer from the supermarket and are now focusing on more premium labels, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of the industry itself.HD1

In 20018 the sales of gin reached a record high rising 40% in the combined markets of bars, hospitality and supermarkets reaching £1.5 billion, selling around 55 million bottles in 12 months. In the last 5 years the sales in the UK alone for gin have more than doubled. From march 2013 to march 2018 the sales have went from £696 million to £1.5 billion, which is an increase of 804 million, the increase itself is beyond belief when you look at the figures especially with how competitive the drinks market is with so many established brands.


When you look at the larger scale of the growth of the industry you can’t help but think is the rise in sales ruining traditional drinking cultures? can this rise have an instrumental effect on other alcohol markets such as the beer, wine and lower grade spirits. One key factor about the drinks industry is that people all have a preference on a certain brand and tend to stick to that brand throughout most of their life making the market relatively hard to sway especially if you are launching a new brand into the market most people seem very brand loyal to their preferred choice. For me personally I am a Guinness drinker and I tend to very rarely sway away from that brand you would never see me drink any other form of stout such as Murphy’s and I would now and again but not very often take a Hop house or Budweiser. This in my eyes would make me out as being a more traditionally cultured drinker I enjoy a simpler approach to enjoying a drink through a pint of my favourite brand and you wouldn’t see me often sway away from this to other brands. However, with this new-found gin culture you see more and more people venturing away from traditional drinking cultures, going out and maybe trying 6 or even 7 different brands of gin with various different mixers.

The sudden rise of the industry has not just brought with its major profits for the market but also brought about a different culture within the alcohol industry, even the whole idea of going out for a drink has changed people go out and spend a great deal more on the premium brands, put a lot more effort into their appearance and make more of a deal of going for a drink.HD3

Some people would suggest the days of going for a social quite pint after work are now long gone the drinks industry has now changed and grown into a more sophisticated type market. The drinking culture we once knew is now heading out of the social norm it is now becoming more and more of a monthly event with and the social, traditional culture side is gradually disappearing.HD4

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up it could result in the rest of the market suffering greatly, it is clearly seen by major companies the way the industry is going with Diageo now more than ever pushing out their premium drinks rage such as Tanqueray at promotions, as well focusing highly on their gin range with the new release of Gordon’s Pink gin taking centre stage the last 2 years. This itself shows not a great deal of faith in the traditional drinks industry with the major brands Diageo owns such as Guinness, Harp, Carlsberg and Smirnoff almost being moved out of centre stage to make way for gin brands.HD2

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up before we know it the industry itself could become one sided. The traditional drinking culture we know will gradually get smaller and possibly even disappear. As a result, this could lead to once major brands declining in sales and possibly even disappearing themselves. The social aspect of our drinking culture may be turned into an upper-class privilege and less of a social culture for everyone. Although some may say this is nothing more than a phase in the industry, and this possibly is true, however one this is for sure and that is that it has had a major effect on the traditional drinking culture we have. The industry is now becoming more sophisticated and with that comes more expense. Gin may only be the top of the industry for a few more years but what it’s done to the industry might have led to a permanent change to the traditional drinking culture we have.

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn –