Saturday, December 30, 2006

Et tu, Santa?

I have heard it said that 'Valentine’s Day', 'Friends Day', 'Bosses’ Day', 'Doctor’s Day', and other assorted days were invented by the ‘greeting card’ companies to promote the sale of their products.

Via Frontal Cortex, I learn now that even the modern image of Santa Claus, was a creation of the advertising executives of the Coco Cola Company. They had introduced Santa Claus, in an ad campaign in 1931’ as a chubby, jolly, old man dressed in a red suit and that distinctive cap. That image has stayed.

This is what Coke’s official website claims :

“Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on our advertising.

Before the 1931 introduction of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall. Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.”

Amazing, the kind of influence these ads and films have on our lives and how they shape our thinking. To the millions of people of the previous generation in Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu, who were brought up on a fare of countless mythological movies starring N.T.Rama Rao, the images of Lord Rama and Krishna that appear in their minds even today, would bear the chubby, effeminate face of N.T.Rama Rao. If the real Rama or Krishna were to materialise today, they would be viewed as imposters and handed over to the police.

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