Coca-Cola celebrates 80 years of Christmas advertising

By Georgina Brazier,, Sunday, 25 December 2011 08:00AM

As Coca-Cola celebrates 80 years of Christmas ads, we look back over eight decades of advertising starting with the brands introduction of the iconic red suited Santa figure that still forms a major part of its brand strategy.

Swedish-American artist Haddon Sundblom was commissioned by Coca-Cola to create the first image of the red suited Santa Claus in 1931.

The company claims that before this, no single image of Santa Claus had been universally embraced. 

Sundblom painted the image of Santa using his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman, as a model.

When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror. After the 1930s, he used photographs.

Sundblom's ‘Coca-Cola Santa’ first appeared in the US, in press titles including The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and National Geographic in 1931.

80 years on, Sundblom’s image of Santa is still pivotal to Coca-Cola's Christmas campaigns.

This year the brand sent out a tour of Coca-Cola Christmas trucks across the UK to celebrate it's 80th Christmas.

This article was first published on


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