Howard Davidson Arlington, MA

Marketing Guy – Arlington, MA

Coca-Cola Drops Polar Bear Holiday Campaign

  • Sumo

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.

Coca-Cola Drops Polar Bear Holiday Campaign

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

12 Comments
  1. Fidel

    Ohhh… I love those cute Polar bears…Santa is not a bad replacement but I still prefer to see those beautiful white bears sharing their coke with one another…Hope, they re-think their strategy on this….Good post Howard Davidson Arlington MA

  2. Jerome

    I will surely miss Polar bears this year. Not sure if I am convinced with Coke’s explanation on this but I guess my opinion alone will not change anything. So, we will wait for next year now…Though Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts you have raised some valid points here…

  3. Sam

    Not sure why these companies tamper with their long loved symbols and images…I have nothing against Santa but I adore polar bears…Anyways, let’s see how it all looks when it comes out…Thanks Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts for letting me know.

  4. John

    Well, this is interesting..I welcome this change not that I dislike Polar bears but I guess the image of Santa will work much better for the brand keeping in mind the Christmas season. Thank you Howard Davidson Arlington MA for writing about this.

  5. Patricia Drew

    At the beginning of the spot, Santa appears from the North Pole drinking a Coke. Much of the ad includes scenes of people engaging in everyday moments of kindness as Santa looks down. Nice post, Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts?

  6. Jerome

    When I first heard about it, I was little upset but have to admit that Santa Clause has gelled in well. It is matching perfectly to the mood of the occasion and that is what matters the most, so no complaints from my side…Nice take on this Howard Davidson Arlington MA.

  7. Nice share. Good timing too. Well, first I have to make it through the holidays. Then after that, I am going to hit the gym and start Weight Watchers. This time of year is pretty tough. Thanks Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts for sharing!

  8. Matthew Davis

    Aah, another classic down the drain. I’ll miss that cute polar bear on all the Coca-Cola billboards, ads, etc. The bear is pretty nice icon. It’s memorable, not denominational and has mass appeal. He’ll be missed. What other holiday icons do you like, Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts?

  9. Keith

    Oh what a shame! The Coca-Cola Bears were darn cute and totally iconic they surely will be missed. But good things come and go. Out with the old and in with the new. But what will the new be? Comments on this post also signify the same. So what’s your soda of choice, Howard Davidson Arlington MA?

  10. Lise Walleck

    Hey Howard Davidson Arlington MA,

    Coca-cola’s new ad seems to be taking a more sentimental, emotional approach. “It’s time I do something for my loved one. A bottle coke is easy and effective.” And hopefully Santa will reward me big this year as he watches.

    But if I were to recall what represented coke and its delight, only those fluffy polar bears that cracked me up would come to my mind. Most viewers probably can’t even remember what is their ad this year.

  11. John

    This really makes me sad. As someone converting to Judaism, and someone not really into the whole santa/Christianity/etc. thing in the first place, and also a big fan of cute white fuzzy animals, I was a big fan of the polar bear ad campaign. I think it is a huge mistake on the part of Coca-Cola to change from cute furry polar bears that have mass cross-cultural appeal to a Santa based campaign that appeals pretty much strictly to those that celebrate Christmas. Just my opinion. Thanks for the info Howard Davidson Arlington MA.

  12. Jim

    Though Christmas is over but its effect is still on. I love Polar bears so I will rout for them all the time, however, I think their replacement in Santa wasn’t that bad either…Thank you for sharing this post Howard Davidson Arlington MA you have done a good job here..

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