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Marketing During Christmas and How Companies Shaped Our Experience of Christmas

Austin Price

Christmas break is just around the corner, and it is the most wonderful time of the year. For many companies, this is also the busiest time of the year when most sales take place. Black Friday and Cyber Monday open the Christmas shopping season which is utilized as a marketing tool to sell products. Christmas, as a marketing tool, has shaped people’s perception of winter holidays.  

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is Santa Claus red?” Coca-Cola is known for making carbonated beverages, plus, it is also one of the first companies that executed a marketing campaign for Christmas using Santa. In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned an American artist named Haddon Sundblom to illustrate Santa Claus for Coca-Cola advertisements using the company color, red. Before Sundblom’s illustration, Santa was normally decked in green or blue and was depicted as everything from a tall man to an eerie elf. People loved Sundblom’s images of Santa, and this was a great marketing campaign that influenced consumers’ perception of Christmas. Coca-Cola did not create the legend of Santa Claus, though it effectively utilized it as a marketing tool that shaped how we see Santa today.  

Companies tell a story using images we associate with Christmas to resonate with buyers and create a need in consumers’ perception. During the holiday season, Starbucks changes the design of their cups by using traditional Christmas colors: red and green. By designing Christmas trees, snowflakes, and Christmas ornaments on the cups, Starbucks is telling a story that consumers associate with winter holidays. [1] This creates a need in consumers' minds and is a great way to advertise during the holiday season.  

Christmas is also associated with giving and receiving gifts. Companies use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to lure shoppers with deals and sales. Businesses advertise this shopping season as a time to buy gifts for Christmas. Walmart adds links to their main webpage saying, “Gift Finder” and “Gifts for Kids,” which can help find presents of your choice. [2] Apple created a holiday gift guide saying, “This holiday season, find the perfect gift to knock their stockings off.” [3]  

Buying gifts can be a wonderful experience. However, based on a survey from Bankrate.com, more than 2 in 5 Americans feel pushed to overspend on holiday gifts. [4] This pressure is also experienced by students at Walla Walla University. According to the Collegian poll, 84% of respondents feel pressure to spend money and give presents for Christmas. [5] Is buying and giving gifts for Christmas an end in itself?  

Even though companies have significantly influenced and shaped our perception of Christmas, let’s remind ourselves that it is all about Christ. In addition, it is a family-centered holiday, and the biggest gift is to spend it with your loved ones. [6] 

 

Sources: 

  1. Starbucks. (n.d.). Starbucks Coffee Company. https://www.starbucks.com/menu  
  2. Save money. Live better. (n.d.). Walmart. https://bit.ly/3GURFdg 
  3. Holiday gift guide. (n.d.). Apple. https://www.apple.com/shop/gifts  
  4. Garcia, A. D. (n.d.). Survey: 45% of Americans have felt pressured to overspend on holiday gifts. Bankrate. https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/holiday-gifting-survey-november-2018/ 
  5. The Collegian [@aswwucollegian]. (2022, November 11). Instagram Poll [Story]. https://www.instagram.com/aswwucollegian/?hl=en  
  6. Patrice. (n.d.). The history of Christmas advertising. Purple Rose Graphics. https://www.purplerosegraphics.com/the-history-of-christmas-advertising/ 
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