Sad Santa? Tad Carpenter holiday cards, games and book

Roger spends a lot of time looking at new graphic art and design ideas to inspire his business at RRBrand, and in his online adventures in design, he saw a video of Tad Carpenter’s new Christmas book, Sad Santa. In the Sad Santa book, Santa is disappointed that Christmas is over, and no amount of fun will cheer him up.  I remember when Jeremy and I started The Yule Log on December 26, 2011, the excitement of starting our 365-day Christmas project chased away the usual post-holiday blues.  In Carpenter’s book, though, Santa does not take one an ambitious blog project with Mrs. Claus.

Carpenter’s work looks very familiar, and it should, because Carpenter designed the gift coin campaign for Target, labels for Snapple and concert promotions for Radiohead, The Shins, Dashboard Confessional, and frequently illustrates children’s books, posters, and ad campaigns for other major stores.   Do you remember the blog post we wrote about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?  Rudolph was originally a story book that was handed out to children when they came to Montgomery Ward’s to see Santa.  Tad Carpenter creates a new Macy’s book each year–who knows?  Maybe 50 years from now, we’ll be singing a tune to one of his works!

Also for the Christmas season, he releases a card series (very cool) and other holiday items.

Meanwhile, exploring Carpenter’s site, I came to a Christmas board game that he designed which looks like fun for the whole family, North Pole Party People Game.  It’s something different than the ordinary.  I like it.

Podcast #25- 181 Days to Go!

Podcast #25- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Halfway there!

We are remote again this week- it’s challenging to keep close to home in the summertime.  We continue our discussion about Christmas collecting.  Nativity scenes, Rudolph, antique glass, Santas, salt and pepper shakers, and even broken ornaments make our chat.  We also discuss some of the more unique collector groups out there- you know there’s a group for everything, right?

Today also is Yesterday was the 6 month mark for the countdown to Christmas 2012!  Celebrate the milestone anyway you like.  A good friend of mine shared she was enjoying a glass of wine on the deck and listening to Bing Crosby holiday tunes.  What unique traditions do you have to mark time until Christmas?  Natalie and I are still working on our Christmas in July party to mark the progress to the big day!


Podcast #18- 237 Days to Go!

Podcast #18– Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer AND Gloria the Groundhog?

We start with a quick recap of the week’s highlights.  We move right into a discussion about picking the perfect name for our Christmas Groundhog.  What name will we pick?  Will our groundhog maybe be Russian? (Insiders know how I love Cheburashka) Our main focus is on Rudolph.  The little reindeer that was born as a Department Store promotional product has grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas icons- right up there with Santa himself.  Of course we discuss the 1964 television special from Rankin & Bass too.  This annual animated gift added so much more to the basic tale of Rudolph: best friend, love interest, danger, intrigue, travel, rescue, and more!  Enjoy and let us hear what other Christmas songs or traditions you want to hear more about.

Rudolph: another brilliant advertisement

I’ve been listening to a book on tape, The Man Who Sold America, about fascinating Chicago personality, Albert Lasker,  20th Century’s inventor of the marketing campaigns behind many of America’s biggest products.  While Lasker may not have been the inventor of Santa, the marketing strategies he started changed the way Americans perceive Christmas.

For instance, it’s hard to imagine advertising without “the give-away” item. In 1939, Montgomery Ward department store Santas distributed a souvenir booklet, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which added the 9th reindeer to Santa’s sleigh.  Written by a copywriter for the company, Robert L. May’s assignment was to write a “cheery” Christmas story with an animal main character.  Chicago-based Montgomery Wards had been buying and distributing coloring books at Christmas and was looking to cut expenses by making their own book.  May wrote the story, trying out the phrases on his daughter,  in the same meter as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Although they gave away 2.4 million copies, wartime restrictions on paper prevented another distribution until 1946, when 3.6 million copies of the story were distributed.

Robert May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the lyrics and tune to the song in 1947, and Gene Autry recorded the song in 1949, where it rocketed to #1 on the Hit Parade.

According to the story, May considered naming his reindeer “Rollo” and then “Reginald.” In marketing, the name is everything.

It’s nine weeks after Jeremy’s initial idea of casting a groundhog in a Christmas story, and we still don’t have a name for the little fellow. I don’t think we can call him Phil because that groundhog has a weather-predicting purpose and a marketing life of his own.

Albert Lasker invented the marketing strategy of a baby naming contest to sell Pepsodent.  I think Jeremy and I will have to have a baby naming contest for a groundhog.  We don’t have the $5,000 Lasker offered, so we’ll make shortbread for the winner.  Grumbles the Groundhog?  Gabby the Groundhog?  What’ll it be?

Songs You Never Knew

Natalie and I have a secret desire to create THE definitive listing of all Christmas music.  We have spent tens of hours discussing this idea and all the variations on it.  You will see this obsession play out over the year I’m quite sure.  We were talking at work today and I mentioned a song I sang with my class in elementary school  Shocking to me, Natalie had never heard it (you’ll have to listen to our podcast on Monday night to find out the song).  That got me thinking about songs that maybe none of us may have heard or even know exist.  There are literally hundreds of songs that we don’t get in the usual rotation each December.  Some of these are true gems that should be played often and discovered by all.  (Check out Annie Lennox’s A Christmas Cornucopia as an example)

We’ll discuss lots of those hidden wonders, but it’s so much fun to delve into the more unique and unusual.  To start us on this quest for odd tunes, let’s look first to donkeys.  Donkeys showed up earlier in our discussion on nativity scenes and now I have two tunes to share with you.  First up 1960’s Dominick the Donkey.  Have you heard this musical legend?  (Click on the title to get a listen) Natalie and I agree that this well definitely be on our list of tunes to be eliminated.  Maybe that’s due to the high number of plays it had this past Christmas.  Turns out the tune had an amazing upswing on the charts in the UK.  It was the #2 song on iTunes in Britain for the week leading up to Christmas 2011.  Go figure!  Next donkey tune is more obscure.  I think I vaguely remember it from those CBS/ABC special presentations at the holiday since an animated show was built around it in 1977.  The same creative geniuses that created the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer TV special brought us Nestor the Long Eared Donkey.  It tells the story of Nestor and his abnormally long ears and how they helped Mary in Bethlehem.  The song was written by a trio of writers that included Gene Autry.  Now this little wonder could easily spike back into popularity with the right marketing.  It’s reported to air on ABC Family each year at the holidays.  Click on the name to hear the signature song.  You can also search it on YouTube and view the entire special.

Finally, a challenge.  This number was recorded by unsigned artists in 1978.  Once record execs heard it they offered the band a $250,000 recording contract.  What do you think of that decision?  Brilliant?  Insane?  Decide for yourself when you hear Christmas at Kmart.