Why Father Christmas is the ultimate influencer and what marketers can learn from him

By Wesley Mathew, Head of marketing



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 20, 2019 | 4 min read

In today's world of Instagram celebrities and Twitterati, it takes more than just a feature on the evening news and a good press release to win over your customer’s attention. And it seems appropriate that with only a few weeks to go until Christmas, the world’s most enduring and recognised influencer is back on our screens and in our heads again; so, are we talking Kim Kardashian, Zach King, Lily Singh or Kylie Jenner?? Sorry, not this time! 80 years on... it’s Santa Claus.

coca cola santa 1931

Meltwater on the popularity and longevity of Santa's influence.

Most historians of marketing agree that the world’s first influencers can be traced back to the early 20th century but that it was the arrival of the Coca Cola’s red suited Santa in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s that really kicked things off. The bearded, cuddly man we know and love today was painted by artist Fred Mizen in 1930 and he was depicted in a department-store, in a crowd and drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world's largest soda fountain and Mizen's painting was used in newspaper and magazine advertisements throughout the Christmas season across the whole of the USA.

But was Coca Cola’s Santa really the first influencer? Many advertising gurus are convinced that he was for a simple reason; that red-faced and suited persona made people smile and encouraged them to make purchasing decisions purely on the emotional response he evoked. What is more, no one labelled Coca Cola as influencers in the 1930’s but they are still with us today driving connection and empathy with their associated brands.

So fast forward to the digitally connected, always on media world of 2019 and even the most traditional companies now recognise that influencer marketing has arrived and has a unique power. The concept of influencer marketing is a popular discussion topic among marketers of all ages; scepticism about its longevity and efficacy is commonplace, while others accept that it is playing an increasingly important role in shaping buyer perception.

The question is however… how do you build an influencer marketing strategy that filters out the fakes and translates into an actual return on investment?

To answer that very conundrum, Meltwater has partnered with the influencer marketing aficionados over at Skinnydip for an exclusive online webinar. Skinnydip London is best known for serving up unique phone cases, bags and accessories to make life a little bit more fun. The company has also built its profile and reputation through the skilful use of influencers on their social media channels.

Skinnydip's social performance coordinator, Laura Timson, will be online to give her insights and opinions on the very best influencer techniques on Friday the 22nd of November and will help you equip yourself with the necessary tools to turn influence into business income. To do so, she will be taking a deep dive into how to go about planning, implementing and measuring an effective social influencer strategy.

Laura, who joined Skinnydip London in October 2018, creates and manages their entire social communication strategy across multiple channels. She has rapidly created a reputation for influencer campaigns which help to guide brands and mobilise an engaged audience.

Let Laura guide you on how best to create an influencer campaign; you never know it might last eighty years!

Regitser your interest for Meltwater and Skinnydip's webinar on Friday 22.

Wesley Mathew, head of marketing at UKI & India - Meltwater.


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Meltwater is a software as a service company that develops and markets media monitoring and business intelligence software.  

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