It's no secret that Christmas is the time when retailers aim for their sales numbers to go into the black - it's why we call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday. With consumer spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, Santa Claus is the most sought-after jolly face of the season. So who does old Saint Nick help get those holiday dollars? Here are just a few brands that Santa Claus endorses. (For related reading, check out Companies That Will Save Christmas.)
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- Coca-Cola (Nasdaq:COKE)
You've likely seen the Christmas ads for Coca-Cola - those classic images showing a jolly Santa Claus drinking a Coke. That classic image truly is an oldie: Coca-Cola began using Saint Nick as its endorser in the 1920s, in newspaper ads appearing in places like The Saturday Evening Post. At first, Santa showed up in all shapes and types, thin and heavy. But by 1931, Santa Claus was cemented as the jolly, round man we know and love today. Santa has been endorsing Coca-Cola for so long, the company credits itself for helping to create this round, happy image of Santa that's now commonplace.
- M&Ms, manufactured by Mars Inc., a privately owned company
It can be a challenge to keep things fresh when you're making chocolate candies. Mars was recently able to cleverly tie its M&Ms product to Santa Claus by having the big jolly guy run into those funny M&M characters in a commercial, where they're wondering if he's real. It's a fun and effective way to tie Santa Claus to red and green M&M candies.
- Harley Davidson (NYSE:HOG)
Santa may be known for his famous reindeer Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Rudolph and the like, but his other ride is … a Harley? Harley Davidson would like you to think so, and the company created its own Christmas scenario with a 2007 holiday commercial where Santa's sleigh was pulled by Harley Davidson motorcycles instead. Although a Harley Davidson motorcycle may be on many a wish list, it's not likely to be a common gift during these tough economic times. Maybe Santa's endorsement will help.
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- Norelco, manufactured by Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG)
Like Coca-Cola, Norelco has been harnessing the commercial power of Santa Claus for decades. Beginning in the 1960s, the Philips-affiliated electric razor company has used Santa to sell its razors as the perfect Christmas gift, even for "the ladies". Norelco likes to have its Santa Claus glide down a snowy mountain on a razor as its trademark, and it uses the catchphrase "Norelco - even our name says Merry Christmas." Now there's some clever holiday marketing for you.
- Macy's (NYSE:M)
It's a Thanksgiving Day tradition to watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, whether you're lucky enough to see it in person in New York City or stay warm at home and watch the event on television. This famous parade started in 1924 to mark the start of the holiday (shopping) season, and it was such a success that the parade became an annual event. Although the parade happens on Thanksgiving Day, it's Santa Claus who always makes his famous appearance at the event to let us all know that Christmas is just around the corner. Although the parade is a costly event, Macy's knows that having Santa Claus show up for your event is a sure way to bring in holiday dollars.
- Nike (NYSE:NKE)
Leave it to Nike to create a fresh take on the Christmas icons. Last year, the athletic shoe giant created a commercial called Dunkin' on Reindeer. The spot featured a rapping Santa Claus, who took on the reindeer team in basketball with the help of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, Nike endorsers themselves. Whether the commercial helped Nike's bottom line is unknown, but it was undoubtedly one of the more adventurous endorsements by old Saint Nick.
The Bottom Line
Some companies, like Coca-Cola and Norelco, started using Santa Claus as an endorser decades ago; others are new in using the jolly giant to sell their products. Some retailers and malls use Saint Nick to bring customers and their kids into the brick-and-mortar stores, hoping they'll spend those holiday dollars. Whichever the case, Santa Claus means big bucks, no matter if he's rapping, eating chocolate candies or riding a motorcycle. (For related reading, see The Christmas Saints Of Wall Street.)
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