Coca Cola The Greatest Gift for Christmas

Coca Cola is rolling out a new Christmas TV advert featuring Santa Claus through the years. The 60 second TV ad begins on a wintry night with Santa Claus offering a bottle of coca cola to a young girl outside Sullivan & Sons, a corner store. As she looks through the shop window she sees Santa walking through the miniature city inside.

Santa gives a bottle of Coca Cola to a young girl

A clock turns and 1946 moves to 1950 while bottles of Coca Cola are given time and time again. We see Santa meeting the girl as a teenager on an ice rink, this time offering her an extra bottle for her boyfriend. The scene morphs to the couple now middle-aged with two children. Santa leaves four bottles on the door step. 1986 turns to 1988 then 2006. As Santa stands outside Sullivan and Sons he is greeted by the woman, now with grey hair. With a smile she offers him a coke bottle and shows him her grand-daughter. Click on the image below to play the video.


The Coca Cola Greatest Gift campaign was developed at advertising agency Mother London by creative director Robert Saville, art director Cecila Dufils, copywriter Markus Bjurman and agency producer Richard Firminger.

Filming was shot by members of the Looking Glass Films team responsible for the 2004 movie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: director Kerry Conran, producers June Guterman and Nina Huang, director of photography Eric Adkins and editor Erik Jessen.

Post production was done at Framestore, New York, with CG supervisor Dave Hulin, Lead Flame Artist/Colourist Murray Butler and VFX producer Satoko Iinuma.

Replica Village

The small village setting is based on Madurodam, a a minute replica of old Amsterdam, known as popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands. Framestore had the job of recreating the village in 3D in five different eras and lighting setups.

50 modeled buildings, 250 props, and nine vehicles were covered in CG snow, all created using Autodesk Maya. All the falling snow was also created in CG, together with the shot of the ice skating rink.

Woman gives a bottle of Coca-Cola to Santa

Santa Claus Effects

Santa Claus is played by Ken Howard, known for his role as Ken Reeves in the television series The White Shadow. To get Howard’s face to resemble the character in the old Haddon Sunblom Christmas paintings Framestore created a CG model using a complete scan of Ken’s head. Cheeks, nose, lips and eyes were then enhanced.

“The CG guys completely renovated Santa,” says Hulin. “In every shot, he was fattened up and slowed down, so that he looked a bit bigger. We did a lot of clean up work on his suit, and on his hat to make it more visible. There was a lot of invisible effects work just to make him stand out a bit more and look more magical. we ended cleaning up a lot of the lighting and his skin texture. Keeping him looking consistently good from every angle was a challenge. It was pretty intense.”

Santa and Coca Cola Marketing

Cathryn Sleight, marketing director for Coca Cola Great Britain, explains that the Coca Cola advertising signifies the beginning of Christmas for consumers. The ad was designed to to embody the optimistic giving spirit of Christmas.

Dream of Santa at Amazon.comArtist Haddon Sundblom created the first Coca Cola Santa in 1931 for the winter advertising campaign. The Coca Cola images were so popular that any changes made to them would create endless streams of mail to Coca Cola headquarters. Once, Santa wasn’t wearing his wedding ring and people wrote to ask what happened to Mrs Claus. Looking at this TV advert it’s hard to tell if Santa’s wearing a wedding ring.

Angela McCluskey Version

Coca Cola in 2007 has produced a new version of the Greatest Gift TV ad, featuring the voice of Scottish singer Angela McCluskey. See the new Coca Cola The Greatest Gift at YouTube

Christmas is in your smile
the way it lingers for a while
falling with the snow
in time?
when it snows
you’re never all alone
the greatest gift is in your eyes