Revolutionary Measures

Father Christmas – marketing genius

father christmas riding through the streets
Image by dryfish via Flickr

After imbibing several glasses of festive spirit (and surviving Christmas lunch at my children’s school) I started thinking about Father Christmas. Specifically, what makes him so successful – and what lessons marketers can learn from the jolly redcoat.

Before those of a religious or pagan bent leap upon me, I do appreciate that Christmas is about a lot more than a fat man in a sleigh dispensing presents to good boys and girls.

Putting that aside, why is Father Christmas so good at marketing himself? Here’s my top five reasons:

1          Focus
He’s stuck at doing one thing, and doing it very well with a clear end date for his campaign, even if the start date seems to be pushed earlier and earlier each year. No variations into Christmas in Summer or trying to steal business from St Valentine here.

2 Openness
Father Christmas is very open to working with others – whether it is Coca Cola, toy retailers or suppliers of novelty nick nacks that no-one in their right mind would otherwise buy. He’s not over-protective of his brand or image rights as he obviously realises all exposure helps (although this might be pushing it a bit.)

3 Air of mystery
Despite being a very approachable brand, Father Christmas has kept his air of mystery. Vital information such as how he gets round the world so quickly, how he gets into houses without chimneys and how he fits all the presents into his sleigh are all kept vague – unless Wikileaks is about to really shock the world with new revelations. And, of course, children never, ever, get to see him on Christmas Eve unless they want to risk zero presents.

4          Multiple brands
A big fat man dressed in red may not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, cunningly, Father Christmas has promoted sub-brands to ensure there’s something for everyone. Whether it is Rudolph with his nose so bright, the toymaking elves or even Mrs Christmas. This also gets over the bit of a pickle he’s got into with the whole Father Christmas/Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas multiple name issue.

5          Incentives
It’s a bit like Pascal’s Wager – if you don’t believe in Father Christmas you don’t get presents. And if you’re not well behaved then ditto (this particularly applies to my children). A simple, straightforward incentive that everyone can understand.

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December 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Indeed a great synthesis of marketing.
    Guess it can be used as a great presentation start !

    Comment by Claudia Calin | December 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. That’s abolutely true, great post Chris.

    Comment by Massimo Gaetani | December 17, 2010 | Reply

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