The iconic Coca-Cola Santa Claus was created in 1931 by artist Haddon Sundblom and first published in Ladies Home Journal. This campaign was created to help Coca-Cola sales in the winter season, as Phil Mooney, Coca-Cola’s VP for Heritage Communications, explained to CNN’s Eatocracy.
In 1931, Coca-Cola was trying to convince consumers that Coke could be consumed in the winter months as well as the summer months. Coke decided to be associated with the holidays by advertising Coke for the holidays. So the character of Santa was chosen because he has to go around the world in one evening and he is definitely going to get thirsty. So the campaign shows Santa pausing during the evening to enjoy a Coke.
Publishing in Ladies Home Journal would’ve targeted moms who are typically the busiest during the holidays (running errands, buying presents, getting the home ready for guests, decorating, etc.) and they make the purchasing decisions for the family.
This advertisement was designed to encourage the drinking of Coca-Cola during the colder months of the year. The display of Santa taking a break during the night to enjoy a refreshing Coca-Cola should serve as inspiration to stop and do the same during the crazy holiday season.
You can read Phil Mooney’s Interview here.