Coke hopes for some ‘Real Magic’ with holiday spot and livestreams featuring Santa

Coca-Cola today unveiled its new global holiday ad onslaught, which encompasses a cheery TV spot, the return of its Holiday Caravan and personalized virtual messages from Saint Nick himself. Coke is hoping its holiday spirits will boost both sales and its new ‘Real Magic’ brand campaign.

Coca-Cola today debuted its new holiday campaign, part of its ongoing ‘Real Magic’ global brand platform. The campaign includes a holiday ad that drives home the concept of togetherness, a revival of the Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan – which was canceled last year due to the pandemic – and new virtual Santa sightings.

Coke, which has a long history of classic holiday ads, is hoping ‘Chimney,’ a new film created in partnership with DentsuMB UK, makes the list of favorites. It tells the heartwarming tale of a young boy who mobilizes a group of friendly neighbors in and around his apartment complex to fashion a makeshift ‘chimney’ out of cardboard boxes to welcome Santa. The final box at the tippy-top of the chimney is, of course, a red Coca-Cola box.

Residents wake on Christmas morning to a red-wrapped present adorned with a gold ribbon, inside of which they discover an invitation for a gathering. In the film’s final moments, viewers glimpse the young boy seated next to an elderly woman in a bustling scene depicting the community coming together to share a holiday meal in one apartment. Attendees share laughs and sip Coca-Cola from glass bottles, while the boy’s mother places a picture-perfect turkey in the center of the table. A slogan appears across the screen: “The holidays are magic when we share them.”

“This is our first Christmas campaign under the new ‘Real Magic’ brand philosophy for Coca-Cola,” said Manolo Arroyo, Coke’s global chief marketing officer in a statement. “Coca-Cola has always believed in the magic of Christmas, and this year our campaign celebrates the real magic of human connections. With a simple and uplifting message of unity, inclusion and positivity at its heart, it aims to remind us that all we need for a magical Christmas is shared moments with community and the ones we love.”

The spot, alongside a number of abbreviated versions of the film, will launch in over 90 markets across the globe.

An old tradition returns and a new one is born

But it’s not just a classic, feelgood film carrying Coke’s holiday efforts this year. Starting November 17, the Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan – a fleet of branded 18-wheelers decked out with thousands of shining lights – will help advance Coke’s goal of celebrating community. The caravan will stop in various cities across the US and Canada, delivering donations to local charities and offering fans the opportunity to snap free pictures with Father Christmas himself.

In fact, Kris Kringle will be pretty busy with Coke this season. A mainstay of ads for the iconic soft drink since the 1920s, the Coca-Cola Santa will this year leave his TV and static image representations behind in favor of IRL appearances on video-sharing platform Cameo. He’ll not only make a handful of virtual appearances, but will also offer personalized video messages for fans in North America. Eligible fans can request a customized Cameo video from Santa made in English, Spanish or French by visiting https://us.coca-cola.com/holiday-hub, starting this week. Videos can be shared with friends and family, and across social media.

Plus, fans can tune into a live Cameo event on December 1, where Santa will kick off 25 days of Christmas, debut the new ‘Real Magic’ short film and welcome a handful of special celebrity guests. To keep the merriment going, Santa’s image will be splashed across the brand’s classic glass bottles later this year.

Coke’s Christmas chronicles

Coca-Cola has a rich history of holiday advertising. Though depictions of Santa Claus appeared in the brand’s magazine ads as early as 1920, the jolly character wasn’t cemented as part of the brand’s identity until 1931, when the company tasked artist Haddon Sundblom with creating an image of Santa. Sundblom drew inspiration from Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem A Visit from St Nicholas, often referred to as Twas the Night Before Christmas, to create the brand’s now-iconic rubicund Santa.

Coke’s first big holiday TV commercial came in 1995, when the original idea for the Christmas Caravan was born. Southfield, Michigan-based ad agency WB Doner tapped special effects firm Industrial Light and Magic – whose work has appeared in Star Wars, Forrest Gump and Raiders of the Lost Ark – to create realistic 18-wheeler prop trucks for a TV spot. After repurposing the popular concept year after year, the company in 2001 brought the Christmas Caravan to life with real trucks that toured the US. Over the years, the brand has expanded its fleet; the trucks now appear in the UK, Australia and in other markets around the world during the holidays.

The effort aims to advance Coca-Cola’s reach through its new ‘Real Magic’ brand platform, which rolled out last month with a spot meant to attract gen Zers and gamers that was largely met with disdain from the gaming community. Having just named WPP as its new Global Marketing Network Partner in a deal estimated to be worth $4bn, Coke is looking to supercharge its marketing efforts. Its historically crowd-pleasing holiday initiatives may prove to be the gift that keeps on giving, advancing the brand’s strong third-quarter performance.

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