If you aspire to be a celebrity in Bollywood then one thing is very important, you need to be good-looking, young & fit (like the different belts in Karate, fitness for men is measured in packs, with six-packs as the highest grade & Zero figure being the best for women). But then there are exceptions to this rule. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan still rules the world giving his competitors his son’s age a run for their money. Celebrities are brands & brands are celebrities in their own way.
When the world is the stage, two such images which stand out are Coke & Santa Claus. Coke has been there for the last 125 years & its best not to get into the origins of Santa Claus. They are brands which occupy a prominent space, one it terms of brand value to other in terms of recognition.
Coke is only sugared carbonated water with some flavors (most important one is of coca leaves after the cocaine has been eliminated). Santa Claus can hardly be called impressive, pot-bellied, huge, old man, always wearing the same old red clothes & always so ridiculous the way he works. Even the courier industry has found out that best way to deliver anything is at the front door, rather than thru the chimney on top of the fire-place. His size must pose a few problems for him or for the chimney designers & in winters the fireplace is surely on, so he sure does not get fire insurance. I am sure insurance companies in western world don’t entertain fire claims in Christmas as they could have been caused by a negligent Santa Claus. (Acts Of God & his agents are not covered in most insurance contracts, do check).
There are 3 things in common to Coke & Santa Claus:
1. Both of them stand for Happiness: The cold winters, piles of snow & smaller days of few hours is something which we don’t experience in temperate India (certainly not in Mumbai, where AC is required even in Winter). Santa & Christmas in this cold climate bring a huge touch of relief by providing warmth & comfort that some one out there cares for you & will give you a gift. Coke as a cold drink also does the same in the hot summers. It gives us a huge relief. That is what festivals & gods are for. To give has happiness & relief from the drudgery of life.
2. Both of them look the same: No…No…they don’t have the same shape…but look carefully what is the same about both of them. Yes, your observation powers are good. The color of his clothes & Coke label is the same. Microsoft Word provides paint as a synonym of colour starting with “P”. Thus paint can be added as the eight P of marketing (last that I know, 7th P of marketing was already there, originally they were just 4 as per Philip Kotler) One thing you cannot blame Coke is of changing colour like a chameleon, it has been steadfast, so has been Mr. Santa Claus. In fact fashion trends come & go every six month but he is unchanged, very strange for a celebrity. The same for Coke. Just sets me wondering, there must be some sinister story behind the same colour. Was is it just a coincidence or some brilliant marketing strategy too.
3. Both work for the same company: “For God, Country & Coco-Cola” Mark Pendergast, writes that a Swedish Illustrator Haddon Sundblom drew St. Nick (that was his correct name) delivering Cokes to thirsty children. Prior to this Santa wore clothes of all colour. But Sundblom decided to dress St. Nick’s in Red to deliver Coke not by chance, but by design as he was commissioned by Coca-cola Company to do so. Strange it is that Santa Claus’s dress is Red because Coke’s colour was Red, rather than the other way round. In fact Coca-cola company has a patent on the colour. Santa is clearly a Coke Man.
Now that is called perfect celebrity endorsement for brand. You don’t get a celebrity to endorse a brand. Create one to do the job. Such subtle influencing goes a long way in influencing our choices. To understand it, do read Sheena Iyengar in “The Art of Choosing“. It’s a wonderful book. And thanks to my dear friend Baiju Mohan, for gifting it to me.
While we believe that our choices are rational, in fact they influenced by many subtle elements sub-consciously & some are planted by expert marketers.