Despite his message of generosity and goodwill, the modern incarnation of North American Santa Claus was invented to push Coca-Cola around the holidays. Therefore, I see no moral or creative complaints about reinventing the character to suit whatever purpose your brand or agency needs.
Creating modern Santa is tricky. Should he be traditionally fat? We want Santa to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. Should he have sex appeal? Santa was designed for children, but their income is below our desired demo. Should he be a he? The glass ceiling has to crash down around this character at some point.
Here’s a few brands’ shot at reinventing Santa to sneak down your wallet.
MEC’s Handsome Outdoorsy Santa Nick
Santa scope: Santa is an outdoorsman – that much makes sense. Traditional Santa lives near the North Pole and tends to a dozen reindeer, so it fits that if the big guy cut his sugar intake and got a haircut, he could be a rural dynamo. Though I love the idea of Santa getting from place to place on a finely tuned bicycle, it greatly upsets me that Nick is apparently the most oblivious of urban pests: The Sidewalk Jogger. I expect any version of Santa to be much more considerate of others. Bonus points for speaking multiple languages though.
Commercial appeal: He’s a soft sell Santa, for sure. Mostly showing off his merch in highlighted red, while his wordplay and chiselled jaw do the work of keeping you watching.
Christmas Cheer Rating: 3/5
Door Number 3′s Jerky Hipster Santa 2014
Santa scope: They nail the hipster part of the equation, but where’s the Santa? I don’t see him doing anything gift-related. He’s more like Santa on vacation where he gets to be a jerk.
Commercial appeal: Door Number 3 is an independent ad agency in Austin, so they know hipsters. They did this video as a sort of holiday greeting card. It’s well shot, and it seems like they’re having fun, but the problem with this Santa (fittingly) is that you can’t tell if he’s being ironic or just being mean to people.
Christmas Cheer Rating: 2/5
BONUS: Australian Hipster Mall Santa 2013
— Hipster Santa (@hipster_santa) December 12, 2013
Santa scope: He lives in a mall (in Australia), and that’s closer than our other two Santas come to the real thing. It’s strange to say but this Hipster Santa just seems more authentic than the others. He’s actually what I think a young, hip Santa might be: he’s smiling, he wears round, gold glasses and is basically dressed in wrapping paper.
— Hipster Santa (@hipster_santa) December 10, 2013
Commercial appeal: Well, it looks like the Australian mall that invented this Hipster Santa for the holiday season in 2013 declined to bring him back for this year. Hopefully, the smiling actor who embodied the generous side of hipsterdom is back on his feet, perhaps as some kind of hipster wizard.
Christmas Cheer Rating: 4/5