🎅 Did Coke create Santa Claus?
The Hustle

🎅 Did Coke create Santa Claus?

PLUS: New patents from Facebook and Spotify.

December 23, 2020
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The Big Idea

Haddon Sundblom’s 1931 Santa advertisement for Coca-Cola

Did Coca-Cola create Santa Claus?

We’re not being glib with that title.

This question is asked so often that Coca-Cola’s official website literally has a FAQ page addressing the topic.

The answer: No, but the popular Santa image we see today was very much crafted by the beverage giant.

In 1931, artist Haddon Sundblom was tasked to create a Santa ad

Prior to Sundblom’s work, there were “many different depictions of Santa Claus around the world, including a tall, gaunt man and an elf — there was even a scary Claus.”

Coca-Cola — despite all efforts by Billy Bob Thornton — wanted a more wholesome and relatable fellow.

The artist drew inspiration from the classic 1822 poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which talks about someone named St. Nick and mentions physical features now found on every mall Santa:

  • “His cheeks were like roses”
  • “The beard of his chin was as white as the snow”
  • “He had a broad face and a little round belly”

Coca-Cola has been diligent about branding since Day 1

In fact, the beverage’s name was picked by Frank Robinson — an employee of inventor John Stith Pemberton — “as he believed the two Cs would look well together to advertise the product.”

Today, Coca-Cola is valued at more than $220B and spends ~$4B a year in advertising, the most by any beverage maker.

Sundblom would crank out Santa for over 3 decades 

His final Santa advertisement for Coca-Cola was in 1964. By this time, Coca-Cola’s makeover of Santa was complete.

While the first ad net Sundblom $1k (equivalent to ~$20k today), the payoff for Coca-Cola is clearly an order of many magnitudes more.

As for the myth that Coca-Cola’s Santa wears red to reflect the company’s brand colors… that’s actually just luck. Santa has always rocked a red coat.

(P.S. If you need a hilarious “Bad Santa” shoutout, find our own Bobby Durben — AKA the world’s best Shower Thoughts curator — on Cameo.)

Snippets

Mini MBA

The Apple One subscription provides a great lesson on how to price bundles

In October, Apple announced that it was launching a services bundle: Apple One.

With pricing plans starting at ~$15/month, customers could get access to cloud storage, Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and more.

According to Rob Litterst — a contributor to The Hustle and writer of business strategy newsletter Good Better Best — the bundle actually has a problem…

… and it has to do with fandom

Shishir Mehrotra — the CEO of Coda and a Spotify board member — tells Litterst that consumers are either:

  • Super Fans, who would 1) pay retail for a good, and; 2) have the activation energy to find it
  • Casual Fans, who lack one of the 2 Super Fan criteria above
  • Non Fans, who ascribe zero (or perhaps negative) value to having access to the good

An effective bundle attracts Casual Fans and Non Fans that otherwise wouldn’t purchase either product.

However, Shishir explains, most bundles are priced to appeal only to Super Fans of both products, limiting the opportunity to reach new customers.

The Super Fan test applied to Apple One

To gauge the opportunity of a given bundle, Shishir asks, “For how many products in the bundle do I have to be a Super Fan to justify paying for it?”

In the table below, you can see the pricing for each individual Apple product: Apple Music ($10), Apple TV+ ($5), Apple Arcade ($5), iCloud ($1).

Source: Rob Litterst

Based on individual pricing, paying $15 for the bundle only makes sense for consumer types in example A (Super Fans of Apple Music + Apple TV Plus) or example B (Super Fans of Apple Music + Apple Arcade).

Critically, if someone isn’t a Super Fan of Apple Music, there’s no way to justify paying for the bundle.

Shishir calls this an “Add-On Bundle,” essentially a retention play geared toward current Apple Music subscribers. If Apple wanted mass adoption, a price around $10 would be way more enticing.

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Patent Drop

One way to see the future? Track corporate patents

Trends member Neer Sharma has been rounding up the best corporate patents every week for his must-read newsletter Patent Drop.

Here are some of Sharma’s recent findings, with the first 2 patents exclusive for readers of The Hustle:

Facebook’s animatronic eye

A realistic mechanical eye that can either track the eye movements of a user, or be trained on a real human’s eye movements so as to look realistic.

Why? It looks like it might be used as a way to train, measure, and track the quality of the eye-tracking systems within VR headsets.

(P.S. Not legal advice, but if Zuck-sauce doesn’t want FB painted in a negative light, he should probably consider less ominous-looking patents.)

Google’s crossword generator

Google already knows everything about us, so obviously it has a patent for a crossword generator that can be tailored specifically to users’ interests.

For example, if you’re interested in politics, Google could generate a crossword that helps you test how well you understand what’s going on in the world at the moment.
(In semi-related news: The New York Times launched an AR-enabled crossword puzzle for Instagram).

Spotify — pairing video with music based on emotions

Spotify is looking at recommending music based on the emotions displayed within user-generated video, and vice versa.

So let’s imagine you’ve taken a video on your phone. Under Spotify’s filing, they would extract the latent emotions expressed within the video, and give you back a video clip with appropriate music added to it.

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Christmas movie of the day

It’s Die Hardwhich is the greatest Christmas movie ever, period. Please don’t @ us, this debate has been settled for decades.

TRENDS

A $10T market begging for solutions…

The latest report from the Trends team of analysts explores a market valued at over $10T.

In the last 4 years alone, the construction industry has raised over $6B in funding.

In our team’s interviews with CTO’s and Directors from some of the world’s largest construction firms and contractors, the same point kept coming up.
The construction industry is still in need of simple tech solutions for some of it’s biggest problems.

After hours of interviews and research, our team identified dozens of opportunities that you can get started on immediately.

We compiled these ideas and opportunities in our latest Trends deep dive.
When you read through, you’ll learn:

If you’re not already a member of Trends, sign up today for a $1 trial to get access to the full report.

Get Access →

Santa Thoughts

It’s two day before Christmas, so we can’t help but wonder… what does Santa think about in the shower?

  1. “Before electricity was invented, getting coal from me wouldn’t have been that bad.”
  2. “If people know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, it’s pretty much a f*ckin’ guarantee that they’ll recall the most famous reindeer of all.”
  3. “Christmas is the only time of year when eating snacks out of an unwashed sock hanging on a wall is acceptable.”
  4. “A gingerbread man living in a gingerbread house is like a human living in a house made of human skin.”
  5. “Eggnog is really just an alcoholic protein shake.”
via Reddit
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