Coca Cola’s Arctic Home

The Coca Cola cans featuring polar bears are now part of every grocery store endcap–one of the most familiar heralds of the holiday season.  I received an email from Coca Cola today reminding me that this is their second year that they are partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help the polar bear, committing to donating $2 million over the next five years. (They’ve raised $1.8 million so far.)

You can read about the company’s efforts on their website, Arctic Home.  The fact sheet outlines Coca Cola’s marketing efforts, but this article in Time Magazine published last year explains the devastating effects of global warming on polar bears and the plan to create a refuge where the ice will remain longest, also called the Last Ice area.

Polar Bears have been part of Coca Cola advertising since 1922. Last April, Meryl Streep narrated the IMAX movie To the Arctic 3D, sponsored in part by the Arctic Home initiative.

Ironically, while Coca Cola has created, a program devoted to recycling, healthy living, and protection of our environment, critics emphasize that the products they create (specifically sugary beverages) contribute to a world health crisis and obesity.

I know that no one wants to dwell the negatives during the holidays, but famous advertising man Alex Bogusky with the advocacy group,  The Center for Science in the Public Interest, released a video in October that satirizes our love of sugary beverages and the devastating effects of the resulting health impact using a story of polar bears who drink too much soda.  Check out the article in USA Today, which includes the video.

Collectible #3- Coca-Cola “Stuff”

These collectors are some of the most dedicated to their pursuits, and they have had nearly a century to work on it.  Who am I referencing?  Coca-Cola Christmas collectors of course!  There are thousands of collectors of Coke memorabilia and many of them choose to focus their collection specifically on the items surrounding Christmas.  There are lots of different Christmas items to collect.  If you’re not sure how it all started or how to get started, then read on.  One huge claim to fame for Coke at Christmas is the role their advertising had in creating our modern idea of how Santa Claus looks.  (That claim comes from the Coke company itself)

Coca-Cola has had Christmas advertising since the 1920s.  The Santa they used early on was bases on drawings by the famous newspaper illustrator, Thomas Nast.  Nast’s depiction was a stern and strict elf like Santa who wore browns and greens before Nast switched his coat and robes to a red color.  In 1931 Coke decided it needed a new look for its advertising and worked with artist Haddon Sundblom to create such an image.  Sundblom kept the red coat from Nast (contrary to urban legend that red was selected because it was the color of Coke’s labeling).  The jolly image he created was based on the description of St. Nick provided by Clement Clark Moore.  This jolly, happy, and kind soul delivering goodies to kids of all ages became the look of the Coke Christmas advertising, and according to them, the image we embraced as a nation for Santa Claus.  Coke celebrated 75 years of this advertising in 2006.

Early on the ads focused on getting people to see Coke as a drink for all seasons, not just warm weather.  Sundblum’s ads debuted in the Saturday Evening Post in 1931.  The ads showed Santa delivering toys, reading letters from children, and taking a break to drink a Coke.  Sundblum painted the ads for 33 years.  Initially he used a live model to create his works.  After his death he used himself and painted based on the reflection in a mirror.  By the end of the 40s he painted all his works from photographs of the scenes he created.  The paintings quickly moved from magazine ads to store displays, billboards, posters, calendars, even dolls.  Today we see ornaments, plates, figurines, and so much more!  The original paintings by Sunblum are some of the Coke corporation’s most prized possessions.  They have been displayed in museums around the world, including the Louvre.

All those advertising items are the core of the Coca-Cola Christmas collectibles.  The Santa Claus ads were joined in the 1940s by Sprite Boy.  Sprite Boy’s name came from him being a sprite (elf), debuting in 1942.  Sprite, the beverage, didn’t premiere until the 1960s.  Santa and Sprite Boy were joined in the holiday work by the Coke Polar Bears in 1993 as a part of the “Always Coca Cola” campaign.  Serious collectors keep close watch on all the changes and developments.  Like all the collectibles we have discussed there is a society for these devotees also.  Cavanagh’s Christmas Collectors Society is for those who collect Coke.  For your $25 annual fee you receive an exclusive figurine, newsletter, catalog, history, membership card, and access to member exclusive deals.  Coke’s dedication to advertising at Christmas grew to include commercials, films, and seasonal jingle.  Check out this clip to hear one of the most loved Christmas creations by Coke.

Shake Up Christmas

Yesterday,  Jeremy and I were involved in yet another one of our annual work events.  When the stress level is high, it’s quite possible that one or the other of us will call for emergency supplies–a Diet Coke.  That made me think of the annual Coca Cola Christmas campaigns which began over 80 years ago and helped to shape our popular image of Santa Claus.

After reading the corporate history of the Coca Cola campaigns, I learned they began in 1922 with the slogan “Thirst Knows No Season.” This is because most people associated Coca Cola as a thirst-quenching warm weather beverage.  In 1931, Coca Cola commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images of Santa Claus.  He based his illustrations on details in the “Twas a Night Before Christmas” story.

As I was thinking about Coca Cola, I decided to look at their most recent Christmas Campaign 2011 using a song “Shake up Christmas,” first recorded by Train in 2010 and then by Natasha Bedingfield for Coca Cola’s 2011 Christmas ads. How did I miss this song?  How did I miss the videos?  I like the Train video better than the 2011 campaign, but the theme is the same.  Santa shakes a snow globe and the world inside the snow globe comes alive with Christmas miracles.  It doesn’t cause tears like the Hallmark campaign, but it does warm the heart. Which version of the song do you like better?

More about Coca Cola in future posts.

iPhone apps for Christmas

I attended a tech conference in Baltimore for two days, and my mind is on overload from what I have been learning.  During the event, I had a long discussion with a friend who is in the market for a smart phone.  As I chattered on incessantly about my love of the iPhone, it occurred to me that I haven’t checked out any Christmas apps!  This is an embarrassing oversight.  I’m hard at work researching tonight.

Grinchmas Cards:  Top on the recommendations list rated by CNN,, CNET, Appmodo and more is the Dr. Suess Camera by Oceanhouse Media.  It earns 4.5 stars out of 5 and costs $1.99.  Users can make “Grinchmas Cards.  The app provides 20 backgrounds based on original Dr. Suess artwork, and the cards can be emailed or printed.  I’ll be looking into this more thoroughly this week and I’ll be posting the results on the blog.

Coca-Cola Snow Globe:  This app allows you to load faces into an interactive snow globe and email the cards to friends.  Like JibJab, the figures dance, but the user “choreographs” the dance.  This app is free, and it’s another personalized and quirky way to send Christmas greetings.  Like Grinchmas cards, your kids will have fun spreading the Christmas cheer, and, if we ever have a snow day again, this could provide hours of entertainment.

Naughty or Nice Meter:  I don’t know if I would have wanted this around when I was a kid, but it’s one way to check if you’re on the list for a lump of coal.  This $.99 app received rave reviews and rose  to #74 overall for Thanksgiving Weekend 2011.  There are several more, including the Elf Scanner.  Hold the iPhone over the child and “scan” his body to see if they are naughty or nice.  (Parents have full control over the Naughty or Nice level.)

Santa’s Christmas Village and Christmas Mishap: Santa’s Christmas Village by EnsenaSoft is actually 17 Christmas-themed games like Sudoku, Word Search, Solitaire, Minesweeper and more for $1.99.  Seems to me it’s a great app to have ready for the long ride to grandma’s house.  For those who like a little more originality and addiction potential, there’s the Christmas Mishap game where you control Santa’s sleigh and keep from losing his toys on his journey.  It’s 99 cents.

Enough fun and games.

The Christmas List and Christmas!!:  The Christmas List is an all-in-one app for shopping and tracking spending with email and address book integration.  It’s $.99.  I’m willing to give it a try, but I’ll probably go with the free Christmas!! first. this app has a calendar, countdown, gift list and more.  It also has jokes and games and an Advent Calendar that can’t be unlocked until December 1.

I have a feeling I’m at the tip of the holiday app iceberg.  If you have favorites, email them to us and we’ll explore!