Coca-Cola, Advertising, and Santa Claus

Over the weekend, I went to visit my uncle in Battery Park. We were at the dinner table, dropping fish balls and slices of beef into a hot pot, when my uncle told me something shocking:

“Santa Claus wasn’t a jolly fat man dressed in a red suit until Coca-Cola made him that way.”

I’m not surprised he knew this. Back in the ’90s, he collected coke cans from around the world and made them into a necklace. But I was taken aback to discover just exactly how powerful advertising is. I always knew it was powerful, but I had no idea to what extent.

It’s even on the Coca-Cola website. In between the world wars, Coke reinvented Santa Claus. Before, he was a skinny elf. But then in 1931 the company wanted to depict coke as both a warm-weather and cold-weather drink, so they hired an artist to reinvent Santa. He became warm, friendly, and plump, and he has stayed that way ever since.

Flash forward to the present, and advertising is still very powerful. But now, instead of art and print ads, it’s all about social media and going viral. Here’s an informative presentation about how to make something go viral:


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