Santa Claus & Commitment

A classic example of Marketing Commitment can be seen in Coca-Cola. The Santa Claus that we all know and love didn’t always look the way he does today. Prior to 1931, his looks were only limited by cartoonists’ imaginations. Then came 1931, when Coca-Cola decided to develop advertising images using Santa Claus. He debuted in Coca-Cola ads in National Geographic, The New Yorker, and The Saturday Evening Post.

To a lot of people, the word “marketing” means to create a new deck, produce a video that will intrigue people, or even to develop an app which helps make their product or service more mobile-friendly. Once that’s done, they sit back in their chair with their fingers locked behind their head and think:

Mission Accomplished. The marketing work is done.

After creating the image of Santa and splashing him across print media, Coca-cola didn’t just say “Mission accomplished, now on to the next campaign”.  Over the past 80++ years, they have has kept up their marketing commitment to dripping the story of Santa Claus to the public (we are all suckers, aren’t we?). From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering toys, pausing to enjoy a Coke, visiting with the children who stayed up to greet him, then raiding more refrigerators for Coke. Since then, they’ve used him on billboards, calendars, store displays, and magazine advertisements.

The result? People associate the red of Santa Claus to the red of Coca-Cola. We see Coca-Cola trucks with Santa splashed across them. If people are asked to think of a cold beverage which has the closest association to Santa, they won’t say Pepsi, Sprite, or even milk. They’ll say Coca-Cola.

Similarly, if you want your brand to be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a certain color, a certain service, or a solution to a problem they are facing, you need to stay committed to your marketing effort. While it takes time – not months, but years – it pays off. Real marketing requires commitment. Marketing Commitment means that your marketing process does not end. It keeps going from all directions using what you had initially invested in. The layman’s term to this is “hustling”.

Lots of people in our industry head off to 3rd-party marketers. They get a deck created, produce a video, or develop a mobile app. Once that’s done, they carry on doing everything they did before, without leveraging what they had just invested in. And a lot of the time, this happens because there’s no commitment to marketing.

I must remind you that commitment is what you do when no one's watching. But remember this: Santa Claus watches you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake. He sits in a dark room, with his shirt off, the smell of cold pizza and cheap beer in the air, one hand clutching a barbeque chicken leg, and the other gently stroking Rudolph’s thigh as he watches you in your bed.

Stay committed to your marketing strategy, and know that it is a long-term process in which you leverage your own marketing tools to develop a brand for yourself. It all starts with that first step.

By Alan Chu

MarketingAlan Chu