Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coke: The Gift You Give Yourself

Both the Coke documentary as well as Coca-Cola's website takes credit for the birth of the image of Santa we know today.  Coca-Cola launched its image of Santa Clause in 1931 and his likeness was developed by artist Haddon Sundblom.  With that Coca-Cola ad, Santa moved from a small elfish character to a full-grown, distinguished man with round belly, rosy cheeks, and a wholesome twinkle in his eye ("Coke Lore").

The ad campaign was meant to help boost Coke's winter sales.  Because it was so strongly associated with a cold, refreshing drink, it was tied to warm weather refreshment.  By using Santa as a spokesman, Coca-Cola hoped to persuade loyal summer fans to enjoy Coke all year round ("Coke Lore").

In looking at Santa Clause Coca-Cola ads, the meaning of the ads centers on Coca-Cola as the gift one gives themselves.  This is a really clever tactic.  Coca-Cola could keep that connection of "refreshing," their summer weather selling point, and tack-on "pausing for refreshment."   In the ad on the right, Santa dominates most of the image.  While the kids at the bottom open presents and look up at Santa with thankful glee, Santa looks at the viewer, with a look of knowing and recognition on his face.  Santa, tired from a night of gift-giving, raises a toast to us and rewards himself with a bottle of Coca-Cola.  .

There's also a series of Santa ads that are laid out like the ones above.  In these, there is always a tagline at the top that sounds like Santa's words of wisdom: "Thirst asks nothing more;" "'Give and take,' say I;" and "And the same to you."  All three ads also include a narrative about Santa taking time out for a Coca-Cola.  The first ad attaches drinking a coke to "the friendliest moment a busy man ever met."  The second take an intriguing altruistic turn that reminds the viewer, that Santa "gives so much and asks so little," just like Coca-Cola.  That ad then has a "real-life" demonstration of that motto by showing a little girl giving her mom the present of Coke in response to her mom bringing home several gifts.  The insinuation being the mom, who gives so much, can, like Santa, be rewarded with a bottle of Coke.   The last shows both Santa and a mother tired from shopping or wrapping packages.  After reminding the reader that even Santa takes a moment to refresh and relax with a bottle of Coke, it adds, "So this Christmas, in refreshing others, don't forget to remember yourself now and then . . . with an ice-cold Coca-Cola for the pause that refreshes."   

The connection between drinking Coke and giving yourself a gift shows up again and again in the Santa Coke ads.  Through either modeling or directly reminding the reader, Coca-Cola encourages busy moms to reward themselves with a bottle of Coke.  The same Coke that provides a cold, refreshing break in the summer, now gives that bright little pep to your Christmas shopping step. 

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1 comment:

  1. Wow this is some serious coke history - I had no idea :D
    Love that is was a Christmas gimmick first!

    Choc Chip Uru


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