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The sleigh bells are ringing, the halls are decked and everyone is searching for the perfect gift. The holiday shopping season is an incredibly important time of year for most brands, leading them to level up their marketing. The incredible influx of holiday advertising can make it difficult to stand out from the onslaught of twinkly lights and jingle bells, but there are some brands that managed to not only be memorable for a season, but for decades. Here are four brands that have become synonymous with the season and have shaped the very culture surrounding the holidays.

Coca-Cola’s Santa Claus
When the Coca-Cola company commissioned an image of Santa Claus for their 1931 holiday campaign, they probably didn’t realize that the plump, rosy-cheeked, red-suited Santa would become the cultural icon it is today. In a historic move, they made Santa wholesome and relatable, putting him in scenes hushing the family dog or rummaging through the fridge.

Up until that time, Santa was portrayed as a stern, skinny old man in a green or brown suit but the Coca-Cola company wanted a warmer depiction that was more representative of the holiday season. And with heavy use and an annual return of the jolly man in red, he quickly became the one-and-only Santa Claus.

Montgomery Ward’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The most famous reindeer of all was actually the last to join the pack. Rudolph was created by a Montgomery Ward employee, and first appeared in the 1939 issue of a free coloring book the department store distributed each year. Montgomery Ward eventually handed the rights to Rudolph back to the creator, who then turned the loveable character into a nationwide sensation.

Rudolph may have had a humble beginning, but through the clever distribution of his licensing he’s now a holiday icon. The song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is featured in nearly every carolers’ repertoire, his shining nose adorns all kinds of holiday merchandise and the ever-popular stop-motion movie has become the longest running television Christmas special of all time. After decades with this special reindeer, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without him.

M&M’s Fainting Santa
This cute commercial was never meant to be so long-lived, but it’s become a holiday tradition in its own right. It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays if we didn’t get to see that fateful meeting, where both the M&M characters and Santa Claus are surprised to discover that the other does exist.

The myth of Santa is told to children across the world. This ad plays off this societal norm and the nostalgia of leaving cookies out for Santa, making it relatable on a deeper level. The inclusion of comedy and slapstick humor with the characters fainting makes it memorable, and the classic nature of the ad makes it easily replayed year after year.

Pampers’ Silent Night
Doing away with the typical sparkles of the season, this ad stands out from the sea of holiday campaigns and leaves its mark. Sweet, sleeping babies and the peaceful song Silent Night come together to create an emotional and moving scene. The original ad ended with a charitable message, saying that each purchase of Pampers diapers funded tetanus vaccines for third-world children.

This ad was a huge success, funding over 40 million vaccines by 2008, and has become a shining example to other brands during the giving season. Rather than showing sad, Sarah McLachlan-style babies, which makes many people turn away, the sleeping babes tug on your heartstrings so you’ll tug on your purse strings, purchasing Pampers and supporting a great cause all at the same time.

If you’re interested in taking your brand to the next level during the holiday season or beyond, we’d love to talk. Contact us here.

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