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Did Coca-Cola Invent Father Christmas?

As the holiday season approaches, images of a jolly old man in a red suit, sporting a white beard and a certain magic sleigh spring to mind. Such a recognisable figure, you could perhaps call him the most famous man in the world!

You will probably think of him as ‘Father Christmas’ but the iconic holiday figure goes by many names: St Nick, Kriss Kringle, Papa Noël… but to the US + Coca-Cola themselves, he is of course known as Santa Claus.

But did you know that ‘Father Christmas’, as we know him, owes much of its popularity and appearance to an unexpected source... Coca-Cola?

In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned artist Haddon Sundblom to create a series of illustrations for their Christmas advertising campaign.

In an effort to boost winter sales, the iconic drinks company wanted to portray ‘Santa Claus’ enjoying their signature drink, in their signature colours.

As a result, Sundblom's illustrations featured a warm, friendly Santa with rosy cheeks, a cherry-red suit, and a snowy white beard.

Prior to this campaign, Santa Claus was typically depicted as a thin and sombre figure, and although Father Christmas is a global icon, his ‘image’ varied across cultures and in popular media.

Sundblom's vision for Coca-Cola's advertisements were adored by the public, and soon he became ‘the man who invented Santa’.

Coca-Cola has kept up the festive cheer since, and releases Christmas content across their YouTube channels during the winter months, including this ‘The World Needs More Santas’ video.

Psst… While you’re there, you should subscribe to us on YouTube too!

While Coca-Cola might not have ‘invented’ Santa Claus - who was actually a Christian Bishop in an area now known as Türkeye, or Turkey - they can certainly be credited with creating his signature look!

It turns out, Coca-Cola has quite the list of big-names on its roster! If you’re just now learning about the Coca-Cola Christmas magic, here are a few more names you had no idea belonged to the Coca-Cola group, including Costa Coffee.

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