A Christmas Tale – Is it time to reinvent brand Santa?


It had been a slow build-up to Christmas. The order book was healthy but Santa wasn’t sure that he was going to hit his numbers. In a meeting with the elves they had expressed concern that, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, maybe the children were ditching Santa in favour of more contemporary, online outlets. The elves, worried that Santa might be tempted to make them redundant, urged him to bring in some marketing help. At least they weren’t on zero-hours contracts!

Three agencies were invited to present proposals. The first confirmed what the elves had feared. Brand Santa was passé; it needed a makeover to make him more ‘current’. They even said that Santa’s digital presence wasn’t all that it could be. Santa had no idea what they even meant. They proposed a colour makeover, changing the old style red to a more contemporary purple in readiness for Santa’s own line of clothing and said that they’d get to work immediately on a warts and all, reality TV show.

“I don’t like that idea much,” Santa grumbled. “Half of my success has been based around mystique. People don’t really want to know it all, do they? After all, my name’s Santa Claus, not Santa Kardashian.”

The second agency said they wanted to make Santa go viral, which didn’t sound pleasant at all. They advocated a weekly podcast in the run-up to Christmas and Santa’s own YouTube channel so children could log on at any moment and watch videos of toys being prepared for despatch. They suggested a tie- up with a wildlife charity where, for just £2 a month, you could adopt Rudolf or Donner or Blitzen and help save the reindeer. But most of all they wanted to do some research to show where in the country the children had been naughtiest and where they had been nicest with the findings released to the press on Christmas Eve.

The third agency didn’t know what all the fuss was about. They told Santa that sometimes you had to recognise what you already had and just work harder at doing the simple things better to make people appreciate it more. They loved the heritage that already existed within the Santa brand and told him that he offered the one thing that no website or high street store could offer – the authentic Christmas experience. They recommended working with Santa on keeping the mystique alive and, in a world riven by intolerance and poverty, on building a campaign that challenged everyone to declare that they believed in Santa and all that he represented. Perhaps one day, he told them, John Lewis might recognise that he could do far more for their advertising than any toy penguin could. Just ask Coca-Cola, he said.

So, Santa has entered his busiest time, with the elves working harder than ever, content that, a few tweaks aside, he remains as relevant a brand to your Christmas than any chocolate orange, bottle of Port or celebrity chef’s Christmas pudding.

And with that, the Astute Marketeers team wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2015. We look forward to working with you next year.

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