Marketing Association Amsterdam

Merry Coca-Colala

It’s Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the year! At least it is for most advertisers. Because, on what other occasion do we spend so incredibly much money on food and gifts? It’s the perfect opportunity for companies to spam us with their great deals, fancy stuff and generous prices. Ok, I’ll stop being cynical now. To be completely honest, I actually think that some of the best advertisements are Christmas advertisements. The new ‘Flappie’ one from is genius in my opinion (if you’re Dutch and you haven’t watched it yet, go watch it!). However, the master of Christmas advertisements, in my opinion, is Coca-Cola. Why? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.

Let’s start at the very beginning. In 1931, Coca-Cola released an ad that would change the Christmas people knew those days. In a series of advertisements the company designed for popular magazines, they created the image of Santa Claus we know nowadays. You know, the chubby, cute one. Before that time, he was usually depicted as all kinds of things, from a man wearing a bishop’s robe to a creepy looking elf. By creating a chubby Santa with rosy cheeks and a friendly face, they created an icon that we couldn’t imagine being any different today. If that does not make Coca-Cola the king of Christmas marketing, I don’t know what else will.


The next and biggest example I’ll give you – and my favorite one for that, is the ‘Shake up Christmas’ song, written by Train and sponsored by Coca-Cola. Now, I always figure there are two kinds of people around Christmas-time; the ones who like Christmas songs and are not afraid to show it, and the ones who like Christmas songs but pretend to be too cool for them. Admittedly, I belong to that last group. Though I love Christmas songs, I always desperately try to keep me cool once I hear one in public – and I have an especially hard time doing that when I hear ‘All I want for Christmas’. So, here I am, taking a blind leap of faith and admitting to you that, however much I pretend to, I am not too cool for Christmas songs. I’m a sucker for them. And so I am as well for the ‘Shake up Christmas’ song.

Let’s analyze it a bit; what makes this song a Coca-Cola song? We hear the ‘shake up the happiness’ lyrics, obviously linked to the ‘Open Happiness’-slogan. Also, when you listen carefully, at the very beginning of the song as well as under the refrain, you can hear the Coca-Cola tune (you know, the one with the joyous bells – “tu-tu-tu-tutu”). This is very slick marketing, of course, but genius nonetheless. The Coca-Cola element of the song is so subtle that the song – at least in my ears – does not sound like an annoyingly persuasive element of commerce. But it is very effective. It’s a way of priming the brand in our thoughts, so that it is always there at the edge of our mind. As Christmas time is a happy time for most of us, we tend to link Coca-Cola to happy moments, making it more likely for us to like the brand and prefer it over others.

So I think, it’s fair to say that Coca-Cola is doing good – especially around Christmas time. I rest my case by pointing out their DIY gift-wrapped bottles you can see in the video below. I mean, that’s amazing marketing, isn’t it?

There are of course many, many more examples I could give you of amazing Coca-Cola Christmas advertisements. Like the polar bears, or the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks (I actually had one of those when I was a kid – a small one, not an actual one). And it has probably become obvious that I am a big fan of Coca-Cola. Not even necessarily for the drink itself, but for the pure joy I get from watching their marketing. And honestly, I think that is what makes Coca-Cola one of the best advertisers around.
Happy holidays everyone!


By Kim van der Vliet


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