Does Santa Claus exist? Of course he does and he will be winging his merry way across the night sky in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer to bring you gifts on Christmas Eve.

And Santa Claus does not wear red and white as a paid employee of the Coca Cola company!

There is a widespread myth that the modern image of Mr Claus is a creation of Coca Cola.

Yes Coca Cola did utilise the character of Santa to promote the drink over the winter (North American) period when sales of a cold soda slowed, but he’s been around a long time before a Coke was first poured.

The classic image of Santa that started and perpetuated the myth is by the Swedish American illustrator Haddon Sundblom, and first appeared in advertising for Coca Cola in 1931 and continued until 1964.

It is little wonder then that at a time before colour televison and newspapers that the red and white of Coca Colashould become so strongly aligned with the man wearing red and white.

Over a period of 30+ years the campaign promoted the character via the colourful medium of posters in an otherwise black and white world of advertising.

However, before the advertising for Coca Cola with Santa began, the image of Santa Claus had already been cemented in the conscious by the description of ‘a right jolly old elf’ in the 1823 poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, also known as ‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore.

And many illustrations of the man wearing a red suit trimmed in white fur had appeared well before the first Coke illustration was printed.

It is testament to the strength of Coke’s Christmas advertising, and the power and value of colour promotion and ownership in branding that so many people have come to believe in the myth.

Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year to you all.