By Staff, Campaign, Tuesday, 09 December 2008 10:50AM
It is a commonly believed myth that Santa Claus wears red and white because of a Coca-Cola ad campaign.
This is only partially true, however. The character had been portrayed in his distinctive colours since well before the end of the 19th century, most famously by the Harper's Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Other depictions of Father Christmas had portrayed him in other colours, but by the 20s, the red-and-white version had become the accepted version.
But this is not to underplay the importance of the iconic Coca-Cola Christmas campaigns.
At the beginning of the 30s, the company was looking to boost its sales in the slow winter months, and turned to the illustrator Haddon Sundblom.
He created a series of memorable caricatures, which associated a ruddy-cheeked, portly, red-and-white Santa with the soft drink.
The campaign helped establish Santa Claus as a ubiquitous seasonal figure at a time when the festival was starting to turn into the commercial celebration it has become.
Although Coke did not invent him, in a world before TV, it was Haddon’s illustrations that helped Santa to become one of the most famous men in the world.
Below, we take a look at some iconic Coca-Cola posters over the years, from the very first Sundblom poster released in 1931, through World War II, up to the present day.
This article was first published on Campaign
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