What Was the First Company to Use Santa in Advertising? (Answered)

An interesting thing to know: Coca-Cola was the first company to use Santa in advertising in 1931. Keep reading and learn more about how to use ads to create a brand image for your business’s success.

In 1931, Coca-Cola executed a marketing campaign that hired the illustrator Haddon Sundblom, who was born in Michigan, to create the Santa Claus image for their advertisements.

Santa Claus is a well-known figure in the media, and every December, you can find him everywhere—in department stores, malls, and decorations.

He is the ideal pitchman for advertiser. After doing some research, we discovered that Santa has played a significant role in advertising for more than 100 years.

Here are a few additional facts about the upbeat man in the red suit that you might not have known. Interested? Keep reading!

The History of Santa Claus

Many years had passed before Coca-Cola began to use Santa Claus in its holiday advertising.

According to historians, Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in the fourth century, who was renowned for leaving coins in the shoes and stockings of underprivileged children, served as the inspiration for this character.

In western culture, the story of Santa Claus delivering gifts to good kids’ homes on Christmas Eve has become so commonplace that numerous illustrators have tried to depict him as a real person.

He was portrayed as a gaunt man riding a horse while wielding a stick intended for misbehaving children, or as a thinner disciplinarian. Fortunately, none of these attempts succeeded.

Coca-Cola and Santa Claus

Santa Claus first appeared in Coca-Cola’s holiday advertising in the 1920s. Although the company hired Dutch illustrator Haddon Sundblom to redesign Santa Claus, it was in 1931 that the real revolution took place.

Sundblom eventually created the cheery Santa we are familiar with today, complete with his distinctive red velvet vest and white beard. He took inspiration from the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” written by Clement Clark Moore in 1822, which years later would be referred to as “The Night Before Christmas” after its famous first line.

Coca-Cola and Santa Claus

The poem described an elderly and jovial Santa who could magically enter and exit homes through chimneys. He traveled the world on a small sleigh drawn by eight reindeer that he lovingly named. Although it might seem like a happy coincidence, the red and white colors used for Santa’s outfit were not chosen as a tribute to Coca-Cola’s brand colors but rather were modeled after the bishop’s mitre attire that the real St. Nicholas may have worn.

Due to the fact that even the slightest changes could enrage even the most ardent customers, Coca-Cola requested Sundblom to recreate this joyful and human Santa in nearly identical form in 1931.

Consider, for example, the time Santa appeared without his wedding ring and Coca-Cola received bags of letters asking: “How did Mrs. Claus fare?”

It is true that Santa Claus was not created by Coca-Cola. The fact that they solidified their interpretation of Santa as the pinnacle of Christmas to the extent that he dominates holiday-themed books, movies, and television shows is undeniable.

Read More: Is Advertising Expense An Asset?

Creating a Brand Image: Lessons to Learn

A company whose main product is an ice-cold soda – not exactly what people dream of during freezing, snowy winter days – took a big risk by attempting to associate Santa Claus with the Coca-Cola brand identity.

Coca-Cola has made a concerted effort since its inception to associate its name with concepts of belonging, joy, and pleasurable emotional experiences.

Every time one opens a can of Coke, their advertising campaigns have promised happiness for more than a century. As evidence of these efforts and in contrast to many other businesses, Coca-Cola has never changed its logo in order to preserve the perception of a reliable, well-known company that embraces the future while upholding its core principles.


Santa Claus was an ideal match for their reverence for the past and for cherished family traditions, which is why the association between the Christmas season and Coca-Cola was so successful.

Having a strong brand identity is essential for anyone wanting to set themselves apart from rival businesses in a market where millions of businesses are competing to stand out.

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Santa Keeps Up With Current Events and Trends

As time went on, Santa began to make yearly appearances in holiday commercials, some of which were naughty and some of which were nice. Santa was turned into a national hero in both World Wars. Santa Claus was depicted alongside the military in advertisements and artwork made by the American government.

Santa advised Americans to purchase war bonds and keep quiet during the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing to stop information from reaching the enemy. “Santa Claus Has Gone to War,” said a production poster of a jolly, gun-toting Instead of the traditional red suit and hat, Santa has a rifle slung over his shoulder and is wearing a green army helmet and uniform. Other similar ads proclaimed “All the best and a Merry Christmas to everyone.”

Santa evolved along with technology over time. The first Polaroid color film was released in 1963. At the time, 35mm cameras rose to prominence. Not only were the images in color, but they also took less than a minute to develop inside the camera.

Their cameras could have easily fit in a pocket. Despite the cameras’ high cost, the public was interested in a cheery advertisement featuring Santa taking pictures. In the ads, Santa said the cameras were the perfect gifts for “anyone that has a pocket.”

Santa was skilled at both photography and typing on a typewriter. In the 1970s, electronic typewriters first became available. A conventional typewriter would require endless retyping if a word processing user made a mistake, corrected it, moved something, or changed their mind. Santa Claus could make his list and double-check it thanks to this technology.

Santa has always had a desire to experiment with the latest technology. In 2011, Siri was a huge success on the iPhone 4s, bringing a fresh innovation that quickly became a favorite of everyone, especially Santa. Advertisements showed Siri working with Santa to assist him day and night.

When Santa asked Siri how the rest of his day was going, most people thought the line that followed—“I’ve got another 3.7 billion appointments to go”—was their favorite from the Siri commercials.

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When Did Coca-Cola Start Using Santa in Advertising?

Before 1931, there were many different depictions of There were Santa Clauses all over the world, including one who was a tall, gaunt man and an elf. However, Coca-Cola hired Haddon Sundblom, an illustrator, to create a painting of Santa for Christmas advertisements in 1931.

Did Santa Wear Red before Coke?

No. It’s widely believed that today’s Santa wears a red suit because that’s the colour associated with Coca‑Cola, but this isn’t the case.

When Did Pepsi Use Santa?

According to The Daily Mail, Santa has been an iconic part of the Coke brand since 1931, but he has also appeared in Pepsi ads as far back as 1925.

What Color Was Santa before Coke?

Before Coca‑Cola was invented, Santa Claus (St Nick) had appeared in numerous illustrations and books wearing a scarlet coat.

Does Coca-Cola Own Santa Claus?

The Christmas urban legend that Coke owns the Santa Claus image resulted from this. But it’s not true! Despite the fact that Coca-Cola invented some of the character’s distinguishing traits, the beverage maker is not the character’s author and lacks any rights to the character.

Final Words on Santa in Advertising

Understanding your long-term goals and the reputation you want to establish with your target market is crucial for building a successful brand. Once this is evident, you ought to let your brand represent these values and speak for itself.

No matter what you think of Santa, there’s no denying that he has a fantastic brand. He has spent decades promoting goods and occasions with his eponymous look. And Coca-Cola was the first company to use Santa in advertising in 1931. His holiday cheer has motivated soldiers in battle and inspired the general populace to drink anything from soda to water.

He improves everything and gives people hope. We are happy that Santa is still in existence to cheer up kids everywhere. He’ll always be on our list of nice people, in our opinion.

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Author: Ada Parker

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