The Most Influential Christmas Campaigns of all Time

Brands and retailers have played a huge role in shaping our holiday traditions. Some of the most successful Christmas campaigns in history still have an impact today, decades after they launched. November and December make up the most important shopping season of the year for many retailers, and a strong holiday campaign can lead to millions of dollars in sales. As such, we’re looking at some of the best Christmas retail campaigns of all time, which have legacies that still live on today.  


Montgomery Ward® introduces Rudolph to the world

Montgomery Ward® was a department store that operated physical locations from 1872 to 2001. Today, it’s moved entirely online and still produces a catalogue that shoppers can order from. However, in the 1930s and 40s, the retailer found a smash hit when one of the company’s copywriters invented the character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as part of their successful annual Christmas campaign that involved giving away free books to children. The retailer printed more than two million copies of the new Rudolph book in its first year after getting letters from children, teachers, and store managers around the country. Over eighty years and several songs and movies later, Rudolph is still an important part of Christmas today!


Coca-Cola® cements the image of Santa – using the brand’s own colors

Many of Coca-Cola’s® most famous and memorable campaigns have been seasonal holiday ads. However, many people don’t know that the beverage brand is primarily responsible for the image of Santa Claus that we all know today! Prior to Coca-Cola’s® 1931 campaign, there was no real consistent concept of Santa. Elements of the character differed widely depending on the cultural background of the different families that celebrated Christmas, with European immigrants bringing their own ideas and traditions into their versions of Santa. It was Coca-Cola’s® campaign that ultimately cemented the image of Santa as a jolly old man with that iconic red and white outfit.

According to Coca-Cola’s® website, “in 1931, Coca-Cola® commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa for Christmas advertisements. Those paintings established Santa as a warm, happy character with human features, including rosy cheeks, a white beard, twinkling eyes and laughter lines.”


Santa makes Macy’s© a yearly destination

Although there is some question about whether or not Macy’s© really introduced the very first mall Santa, there is no doubt that they played a huge role in popularizing the tradition. According to the retailer’s website, customers have been able to visit Santa Claus in their stores since the early 1860s! The movie Miracle on 34th Street helped to further tie Santa to Macy’s© in the consumer imagination, making Macy’s© the second most popular mailing address for children’s wish lists after the North Pole. At the Herald Square location alone, more than 200,000 customers have flocked to visit Santa each year since 1977. To this day, Santa is a huge draw for malls during the holiday season, thanks to this yearly trend that Macy’s© has made familiar.

Brand and retailer marketing campaigns have successfully sparked many traditions that are now beloved parts of the holiday season. From watching Rudolph Christmas specials to taking pictures with Santa at the mall, Christmas would not be what it is today without the iconic campaigns that have resonated with consumers for generations.

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