Does Santa Deliver?

In Insights, Uncategorized

6 December, 2012

He has his own style and he sticks to it.

The potbellied, glistening, jolly man with the white beard in his red robe with white fur trimmings is the universally recognized symbol of the festive season. 

But it is commercialization in its purest form. In 1931 the Coca-Cola Company wanted to boost sales over winter, then a season where sales of soft drinks were weak.

The original Saint Nicholas was a Byzantine Bishop in Myra in today’s Turkey. He gained a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting a coin in the shoes of the needy. After his death he was made a saint and he is the patron saint of merchants and sailors. Therefore, a sea faring nation like Denmark typically has lots of churches dedicated to him.

Through the ages Saint Nicholas, Nikolaus etc. has been depicted wearing a bishop’s cloak and a mitre. And a halo. He is a saint after all. His name day is 6 December (19 December in the Julian calendar) and as many things concerning religion it seamlessly fused with Christmas. He was eventually referred to as Father Christmas, Jultomten, Julenissen, Babbo natale, Père Noël, der Weihnachtsmann, Sinterklaas – which in North America has become Santa Claus. 

For Coca-Cola winter was a period with low sales of soft drinks. In 1931 they decided to launch an advertising campaign in order to change this. This campaign took to the hearts of consumers and it lasted of over 30 years – thoroughly cementing our perception of what Santa Claus/Father Christmas looks like. 

So when people moan that Christmas has become more and more commercial they are absolutely right. In the shape we normally think of Santa Claus it is Coca-Cola’s doing. But we should perhaps bear in mind that this is a result of the evolving of a historical figure and lots of myths and local customs.

…and finally: did you know that Santa too needs qualified IP-advise? Through many years Awapatent has managed IP-matters for the Santa Claus of Greenland Foundation which makes sure that the thousands of children who annually send their wishes to Santa also get a reply … from Santa. We are not, though, responsible for the presents.

Thorbjørn Swanstrøm, Attorney at Law

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