No, it’s not some cheesy 90’s cartoon movie about how the Advertising and Marketing industry came to rescue Santa Claus. However branding did certainly have a key part to play in how we know Christmas today.
Christmas is widely understood to have a religious background. However the tinsel, Santa and all his little elve helpers weren’t present next to the manger amongst the various livestock, wise men and shepherds.
The Santa Claus AKA Saint Nicholas AKA Sinterklaas story began as a Dutch legend although it did take many years and some very savvy branding to make him into the big, jolly, red faced and red jacketed Arctic resident we know him as today. In fact for many years Santa was depicted as a creepy looking elf before it was Coca-Cola who rebranded him (not surprisingly in Red and White) throwing him in a pair of boots and sending him up to the North Pole.
In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department-store Santa drinking a bottle of Coke and by the next year the company began placing Coca-Cola ads in popular magazines. So with a carefully constructed branding process (including a jolly Santa Claus and the promise of toys and fizzy beverages) Coca Cola produced a marketing phenomenon that is an ever-present familiarity around the world.