PR Lessons From Santa Claus

An obvious solution to making PR more cost-effective is to do it yourself, also known as DIY, initially. So, what's the best way to start? Like Santa, of course!

As an entrepreneur, I know what it’s like to get pitches from PR firms you can’t afford quite yet. Which is a shame because good PR can be the most effective marketing tool for a startup.

That said, an obvious solution to making PR more cost-effective is to do it yourself, also known as DIY, initially. So, what’s the best way to start? Like Santa, of course!

We all know the backstory of Santa Claus, so to tell it again would be a bore. Instead, Hollywood and the media introduce us to an impressive variety of Christmas-themed stories that reimagine Santa Claus in varying perspectives each year.

Stories that read: If Santa had a black sheep brother or if one of Santa’s elves was actually human. Maybe a regular guy spends a season playing Santa Claus for children and learns about the benefits of belief. It’s nothing short of impressive how many aspects of Santa’s life are reimagined.


Reimagine Your Brand Story

The reason this can be done is because the foundational story of Santa Claus isn’t just about the facts, it has a message — a brand. St. Nicholas is more than a white-bearded jolly gift giver. His tale is about kindness, acts of service, gratitude and caring for loved ones.


Photo: Fashion Santa; Source: Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Photo: Fashion Santa; Source: Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre

While the stories built around Santa’s brand differ, they all work because they convey the same message. In fact, different perspectives even amplify the brand; collectively they display the Santa story better than they do individually; while cutting through Christmas noise due to their uniqueness.

For example, consider the social media sensation “Fashion Santa” #YorkdaleFashionSanta. “Perhaps you have seen Fashion Santa floating around Twitter. He is an incredible meme that reared his head just in time for the holiday season (Four Pins).”

This year, “Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto has given Santa a hipster twist for its 2015 holiday campaign. Instead of the plump rosy-cheeked fellow you’ll likely find in malls across North America, the Canadian brand’s St. Nick is a sleek and elegant silver fox decked in skinny jeans, high tops and sunglasses, with a beard to match (Advertising Age).”


Photo: Fashion Santa; Source: Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Photo: Fashion Santa; Source: Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre

The same brand principles apply to your business. As the owner of a spirit brand, Vodka Mariette, it would be pretty ineffective to say “Gee, here’s another vodka and it’s distilled five times instead of four.” This would be likened to the bore at the core Santa tale that everyone knows and has heard hundreds of times before. It would get lost in the market noise.

Instead, we chose to create a brand in addition to the product: Mariette is a French girls’ name that means “little rebel” because we’re all about empowering creative women. Now we have interesting stories to tell based on this positioning. We do so, by the female entrepreneurs we highlight and the women who work at the distillery. It’s woven into our brand even through commentary on relevant cultural events. All of a sudden, we’re an entity with more depth, just like St. Nick.


Creative Brand Twists

In this age of sophisticated consumerism, buyers choose products and services not based on objective qualities alone. They heavily consider the subjective — what the business stands for, and what it says about their choice to use it.

Creating a brand and telling your brand story in creative ways is essential to long-term longevity and success. 

In fact, it’s why “the legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas (History.com).”



So how can you do PR like Santa?

Identify your core brand, create the brand story and message you want your audience to connect with. Then craft a multitude of unique stories that all contain that same message; stories you can tell and release over time.

Use this as inspiration to extend your entire list of brand messages. For example, Santa Claus stories expand into general Christmas tales of redemption. After discovering what your brand stands for, start to show and tell customers about the creativity behind the business, how your product or service serves them in a unique and exciting way.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Josh Winzelberg is the founder and president of Vodka Mariette, a french spirit based in Bordeaux and New York. He loves design and branding. You can find Josh in Chelsea, Manhattan with his furry partner in crime, Luna. Connect with @VodkaMariette on Twitter.



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