Santa’s Branding Strategy

coke2022Jolly Old St. Nick
Over the next three months, I’m willing to bet that nearly every major brand will have a twinkle-eyed, rosy-cheeked, jolly man with a velvet red suit, trimmed in white fur on the promotion payroll. In fact, he’s probably hard at work for some iconic brand with his stunt double right now filming some commercials and mobile ads showing him squeeze down the chimney with his red bag filled with tech products, Pantone color guides, Jude Stewart’s ROY G. BIV book and more. Santa is truly, the most marketed man in the world, who is also marketing products that are marketingbbdosanta him, and the holiday season could always use more marketing.

Santa seems to shop at major retailers, enjoys a drink now and then, likes to upgrade his technology and definitely enjoys Coca-Cola or does he? Back in 2001, BBDO Canada did an ad that showed Santa choosing Pepsi over Coca-Cola! Is Santa’s choice really that powerful? Coca-Cola has spent more than 100 years cultivating a relationship the kind magic gentleman and Pepsi could not break the ties of soda loyalty. santasbudThe Pepsi ad with Santa surprisingly lifting an unmarked cup only to find his drink of choice was Pepsi, was created by BBDO Canada in the fourth quarter of 2001. Between 2002 and 2006, Pepsi’s profits grew every quarter. In santaseriesguardagainstthroatscratchlDecember 2005, Pepsi’s stock valuation beat Coke’s for the first time in its 108 year history! Was it because of the Santa influence? No, but it would be a great ending. Actually, at that time, Pepsi had yet to beat Coke in cola wars. Its valuation was a result of its snack food empire, but Coke and Pepsi aren’t the only ones using Santa to sell their products.

Who can forget the cigarette companies that enjoyed Santa’s presence in their print ads or Budweiser who apparently fed him and just tagged the full page with a small logo at the bottom. Santa looks so happy in all the ads, it’s hard to believe he would be unhappy lending his name to any of the products, but I’m willing to bet that someday, Santa’s white fluffy beard and round, red cheeks will no longer be allowed to sell products meant for children.

building-better-brandsBuilding Better Brands

In a world where social media challenges your message every day, how do you build a better brand? Scott Lerman, is the founding partner of Lucid Brands and author of Building Better Brands.

In this 208 page book, Learman discusses the need to be clear and honest when branding products. His team has worked with some of the most influential corporations in the world including Caterpillar, American Express, Owens-Illinois, 3M, National Semiconductor, National Australia Bank, and Harley-Davidson. If you are interest in learning how he branded and rebranded iconic global businesses, visit and purchase this comprehensive branding book.