Coca-Cola Drops Polar Bear Holiday Campaign
In a surprising move, Coca-Cola has dropped their annual holiday-season polar bear ad campaign.
One of the surefire signs of the winter holidays’ approach is the annual appearances by Coca-Cola’s computer-animated polar bears. This year, Coke is abandoning those characters, instead choosing to appoint Santa Claus as their holiday pitch man.
Coke has used Santa in plenty of ads before, and a company spokesman said that the brand has “an embarrassment of riches having two wonderful icons like this.” The problem with this statement is that Santa Claus isn’t Coca-Cola’s icon. Santa has been a beloved cultural symbol for centuries. Coca-Cola’s marketing team created the polar bear characters. They did not invent Santa Claus.
Let me put it this way: If I showed you a picture of computer-animated polar bears and asked you what company the ad was for, you would probably correctly guess Coke within an instant. If I showed you a picture of Santa Claus and asked the same question, it might take you hundreds of guesses to land on Coca-Cola.
I don’t like anything about the decision to scrap popular, easily recognizable original characters in favor of a wholly generic campaign like this one. Furthermore, if the point was to push the Santa character – as the spokesman’s statement suggests – Coke failed miserably.
Santa Claus is onscreen for six seconds in the minute-long spot. The other 54 seconds are mostly filled with short vignettes depicting random people doing nice things for each other. What does any of this have to do with drinking soda? No idea. Absolutely no idea.
Finally, one of the great things about the polar bear campaigns was that the spots were culturally inclusive. They were more of a general celebration of the winter holiday season, whereas this new campaign trades in “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas.”
Better luck next year, Coca-Cola.
Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts