Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Haddon Sundblom

I think by now everyone knows how much I love Coca Cola, and how much I love Christmas.   I got abunch or glass tree ornaments with Coca Cola Santas on them several years go,  I thought this was a great gift, but I never knew that they were the work of a man born in Muskegon Mich, in 1899 to Finnish immigrant parents.  Haddon Hubbatd Sundblom (1899-1976) called
by friends,  created  adds for Maxwell House, Colgate Palmolive, Buick. Pierce Arrow among others, he was also the artist who created  the image  of "The Quaker Oats Man"is considered one of, if not the greatest advertising Illustrators of all time, by his peers.  Sundblom also Created the "Sprite Boy" for the  Coca Cola  company in the 40' and 50s.

Also well know for his pin-up art, like this example, created for the the December 1972 issue, the cover is his last work in illustration.  

I can remember seeing his Santas in National
 Geographic and the Saturday Evening Post, they always gave me a warm feeling.   It's easy for me to see how Sundbloms art could have transformed our idea of how Santa looked, even how he acted.  And we are so much the richer for his transformation of an elf in a brown robe, to a gentle,  exuberant man , filled with a sense of humanity and fun.
Who so obviously loved life, and children of all ages.   And that good readers ,is a touch of true magic.

In the early Coca cola adds, those in the 1920s  Santa looked rather stern, He sometime bore a strong resemblance to Thomas Nasts illustrations of the "right jolly old elf" who was a small, elf sized
supporter of the Union during the Civil War and who wore a pale brown coat.  Which was later changed to red.

The first  advertisement  with Santa and a  Coke was painted by Fred Mizen in 1920, and my understanding that it was actually an advert for a Department Store's soda fountain.  It was also used in 1930 advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post.   In 1931  Haddon Sundblom's paintings of a robust and fun loving Santa, who visited with the children who had stayed up too see him, raided the refrigerator for a Coke, stopped to play with they toys he delivered and  enjoy a Coke of course.   Santa appeared so real, not mysterious but like a  person you might see on the street.  In fact Sundblom had used a friend, a retired salesman, Lou Prentiss, as the model and in later years after Prentiss passed, Sundbloom used himself as the model, also he
used the neighborhood children as models,  the black poodle in one painting was  really a gray poodle owned by the florist.  One year he didn't paint  in Santa's wedding ring , and got letters asking what had happened to Mrs. Claus.

"Things go better with Coke" was painted in 1964, the last of Sundbloms  Santas.

1964 Coca-Cola Holiday Ad

    1931 Coca-Cola Holiday Ad

1931 - 'My hat's off to the pause that refreshes'
The Coca‑Cola Company commissioned Haddon Sundblom, a well-known illustrator, to create Santa Claus artwork for their advertising. He is said to have received fees as high as $1,000 per painting - a substantial sum for the time, when a four-door car could be bought for around $700!
This is the first image of Santa created by Sundblom, which appeared in adverts for Coca‑Cola during December 1931. The Coca‑Cola Company decided to create adverts associating Christmas and Santa Claus with the drink because people often thought of Coca‑Cola as a summer beverage. So, the iconic Coke Santa was designed to remind people that Coca‑Cola could be drunk all year round!
Sadly, Sundblom's original oil painting no longer survives. The high cost of canvas during the Great Depression led the artist to paint over his 1931 image to create a new Santa Claus picture three years later.
1936 - 'Me too'
This early Haddon Sundblom image shows Santa Claus relaxing with his shirtsleeves rolled up and revealing just a hint of red underwear! The image appeared during the Great Depression in the United States, when the idea of a simple moment of pleasure and a reminder of happy times were desperately needed.
1937 - ''Give and Take,' say I'
In this artwork, St Nicholas is once again wearing his red coat. His gloves are tucked into his belt while he stops to take a Coke - and a turkey leg - out of the homeowners' fridge. Even in 1937 we knew that Coca‑Cola tasted great with food!
Advertising that showed people leaving out a bottle of Coca‑Cola for Santa on Christmas Eve actually inspired many families to do so - a tradition that, for some, continues today.
1941 - 'Thirst asks nothing more'
This ad shows Santa relaxing next to a drinks cooler, typical of the time. The contour bottle he is sipping from was introduced in 1916 to distinguish Coca‑Cola from its competitors, and is so distinctive it can even be recognised in the dark!
1949 - 'Travel refreshed'
By 1949, Haddon Sundblom's vision of Santa Claus had featured in Coca‑Cola advertising for 18 years. This painting, however, shows another creation of Sundblom's - an elf named Spite Boy, who is seen here watching the reindeer while santa drinks a Coke.
Although The Coca‑Cola Company how has a drink called Sprite, Sundblom's character wasn't named for the beverage. Instead, he is called Sprite Boy because that is just what he is!
1953 - 'The pause that refreshes'
This Coca‑Cola Santa Claus artwork, from 1953, features one of the longest-lasting slogans in Coke history: The pause that refreshes, first introduced in 1929. Though other Coca‑Cola slogans followed in later years, this one was so popular that it remained in use into the 1950s.
1961 - 'When friends drop in'
In 1961, Haddon Sundblom created this comic image of Santa trying to quiet the family dog, who is trying to let his owners know of a visitor in the house. The original oil painting this ad was based on measures more than three feet in each direction!
1964 and beyond
Haddon Sundblom painted his final image of Santa Claus for Coca‑Cola in 1964. The dog in this image was based on the grey poodle belonging to the neighbourhood florist - but Sundblom gave the animal black fur, instead, to make it stand out against the festive background.
Sundblom's version of St Nicholas is still used to this day in Coke Christmas adverts, on Coca‑Cola packaging and for other marketing materials. His image of a jolly, kind old man with rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes remains the most popularly-held vision of Santa around the world today.
Not only are Sundblom's pictures irreplaceable, but through Coca‑Cola advertising seeing them has become a fixture of the holiday season - almost as anticipated as a visit from Santa himself!

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