Holiday advertising is much of what makes the season so exciting and memorable. From stunning store displays to unforgettable holiday graphics, a few companies went above and beyond to create iconic visuals that continue to withstand the test of time. These Christmas graphics are more than just a print ad in a magazine or an eye-catching billboard; they evoke feeling and bring undeniable joy to the holiday season. The following brands hit their mark with these cherished symbols of holiday cheer. Below are our picks for the most recognizable holiday visuals and graphics of all time.
Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom from Want' Painting
This famous painting became referred to as both "The Thanksgiving Picture" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It was one of four in a series Rockwell called The Four Freedoms. This installment became the quintessential image of a family eating a meal during the holidays. The painting appeared in countess advertisements and represented families gathering for the holidays.
Coca-Cola's Santa Claus
Coca-Cola is one of the most renowned brands in the world, largely due to the company's smart, unique and entertaining advertisements. During the holidays Coca-Cola is known for creating heartwarming ads for their products, but none more recognizable than the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned artist Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa Claus for the company's Christmas advertisements. These images portrayed the man as a warm, friendly character with rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes and a long white beard. Before this, Santa was depicted as anything from a scary elf-like creature to a tall, slender man. With their illustration of a rounder, jolly man Coke helped shape the image of the Santa Claus we know today.
The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
In 1950, cartoonist Charles Schulz created the iconic comic strip known as Peanuts. Most of us have shared in the shenanigans of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang at one time or another. A Charlie Brown Christmas aired in 1965 and followed the Peanuts kids as they try to find a Christmas tree for a school play. Everyone ridicules the spindly, sparse tree Charlie Brown brings, until the real meaning of the season manifests through his love for this unconventional tree. We will never forget the image of a proud Charlie Brown placing one red ornament onto his sad-looking tree. Today, the term "Charlie Brown Tree" is used playfully to describe any bare Christmas tree.
The Hershey's Kisses Christmas Bells
This television commercial features the Hershey's Chocolate Kisses synchronized as bells moving to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." You never quite looked at a Hershey's Kiss the same after you saw its musical potential. People love Christmas jingles, especially when they involve moving visuals of this classic Christmas candy. The original commercial aired in 1989 and continues to circulate today proving that the best holiday ads have true longevity.
The Budweiser Clydesdales
The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public in 1933 to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. Recognizing the public appeal, Budweiser began using the Clydesdales as advertising and promotional icons. In their first-ever holiday commercial, the Clydesdales donned bells and channeled their best inner-reindeer to pull a sleigh through the snow. While some might argue beer, horses and the holidays aren't related, Budweiser's snowy Clydesdale commercial continues to be one the essential holiday images today.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
This parade has become the epitome of Thanksgiving Day events. The tradition began in 1924 in New York City. Many people share fond memories of crowding around the television to catch the Macy's Day Parade with family and friends. For some, the parade's signature giant balloons are the best part. The first animal-shaped balloon of Felix the Cat was produced by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and debuted in 1927 to replace live animals. Since then, the balloons are a central part of the parade and are categorized in three classes: the novelty balloon class, the full-size balloon class and the "Blue Sky Gallery," which transformed the works of contemporary artists into full-size balloons.
The Coca-Cola Polar Bears
Again Coca-Cola reigns in visual holiday communications with its iconic polar bears. They first appeared in a print ad in France in 1922 and were used periodically in print campaigns for the next 70 years. The polar bear became a vintage Christmas graphic that represented the fun and lighthearted spirit of the holiday. It wasn't until the 1993 "Northern Lights" commercial that the animated Coca-Cola polar bear was propelled to stardom. This cute, cuddly character was adored far and wide. Today, Coca-Cola partners with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise money and create a safe haven for polar bears in the Arctic.
These brands created stand-out visuals, graphics and characters that remain ingrained in our minds as warm representations of holiday cheer. Whether you have holiday spirit overload or can't help but appreciate a great advertisement, these extraordinary campaigns reminds us that the season is more than just ugly sweaters and sugar cookies—it's about the joyful feeling we receive from these symbols all around us.