Coca-Cola Christmas spot imagines a city of Santas

—Created by WPP Open X, the holiday ad depicts a city of people ‘in touch with their inner Santa’—

By Charlotte Rawlings

Coca-Cola has explored what the world could look like if everyone embraced their inner Santa in its 2023 Christmas film.

Created by WPP Open X, led by VML and supported by Grey, Ogilvy PR, EssenceMediacom, Hogarth and JKR, “The world needs more Santas” opens with the line “Anyone can be Santa.”

Set to the tune of “I Could Be Santa Claus” by Celeste, the ad depicts a city where hundreds of Santas walk the streets spreading generosity and kindness.

One Santa helps a fellow Santa hail a taxi when his arms are full of presents, another helps spot a Santa in the gym as he attempts to lift a heavy weight, and one kindly gives the last Coca-Cola in the vending machine to his counterpart.

It is then revealed that the city of Santas is actually just populated by ordinary people doing random acts of kindness and keeping in touch with their inner Santa.

“The brief to our Open X network was very, very simple,” Islam Eldessouky, global head of creative strategy and content at Coca-Cola, told Campaign. “We stand for happiness, optimism and making a difference. Christmas stands for kindness, generosity, coming together, and so forth.”

Eldessouky added: “The process took a lot of ideation from a lot of different creative teams around all corners of the Earth. And then eventually, after a lot of nice consumer validations and qualitative conversations with consumers, we landed on ‘The world needs more Santas’. When people embrace their inner Santa, real magic, which is what we stand for, really multiplies in a very amazing way.”

The ad was directed by Pontus Lowenhielm, as part of the directing collective Traktor, through Stink Films. Eldessouky said Coca-Cola chose to work with Traktor because the collective believed in the idea and had “a lot of clever ways of bringing it to life.”

Eldessouky saw the challenges of the campaign as opportunities, adding the amount of ideas to choose from can be “overwhelming.”

“Today’s marketing ecosystem is so vast, so wide, so many touch points, so many manifestations of one idea,” he said. “How do we hand-pick this suite, or this toolkit, of ideas that can really amplify the idea and give it more meaning and more engagement with people?”

The global campaign will run across more than 80 markets and will include two Christmas short films and an extension of the brand’s “Create real magic” AI platform, both launching later this year.

The campaign will also involve in-person experiences, digital experiences, out of home and on-pack competitions.

Eldessouky told Campaign the brand wanted to “inspire, engage and include” for this year’s Christmas campaign. “Engaging people and making them part of the narrative instead of just recipients of the narrative is very, very critical.”

Coca-Cola has created a digital “Find Your Inner Santa” quiz, available through the Coca-Cola App and mobile browsers. The quiz determines the user’s type of “inner Santa” and gives people an asset to post on their social media channels with the hashtag #CocaColaChristmas.

Eldessouky added that Coca-Cola wanted to make creativity accessible to everyone because “every human being has creativity in them,” referencing the brand’s use of AI in its “Create real magic” platform. He said this played an important part in Coca-Cola’s decision to create digital experiences alongside the main film.

The Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour is also back this year, and will offer activities such as sending digital seasonal cards, local food stalls and meeting local charitable organizations.

Several markets will be partnering with local charities to help drive support through donations and employee volunteering. Some charity partners will appear at the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour to drive awareness of their cause.

The campaign will feature on-pack scannable codes, which will unlock the “Find Your Inner Santa” quiz as well as give people the chance to win festive prizes, including a trip to Rovaniemi, Finland to meet Santa in his hometown.

Out-of-home executions will go live worldwide, highlighting everyday moments of unexpected kindness.

This article originally appeared at Campaign US.