Santa wasn’t happy. He looked again at himself in the mirror, a furrow now lining his brow. He called downstairs to his wife.
“Mrs Claus, are you sure they sent the right outfit?”
Her voice sailed back up the stairs, patient and kind as it always was at this time of year. She knew how stressed he got as the season raced closer. “Yes, honey they definitely did. They said you would have to wear something different — that was a key part of the deal, remember?”
“Oh yes, I remember now. But really — they surely can’t have meant this colour?”
His voice had taken on a grumbling edge. He knew he shouldn’t complain. But change, oh change, was always hard for him. He knew it had to come, and he’d always embraced it in the past — the shift from hand-carved wooden toys to the hiss and whirr of the machines stamping out intricate kits of parts to be put together… oh how he’d loved those!
This new world that was coming, it all felt a little too much for him. The eyes of his Chief Elf and Head Toymaker had been agleam as he described the “coming paradigm, Santa, it’s so exciting — we’ll be able to print toys out 3D exactly as they’re asked for, and connect them up to the internet so we can continually monitor whether the children have been naughty or nice. We need be right on top of the IoTT — the internet of toy things!”
Santa of course agreed with all this, and certainly didn’t want to be left behind, or dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. But he suspected that investing to keep up with the toy times would be expensive — and he’d had to pretend his eyes were watering with joy when he was first shown the plans.
What to do what to do? The Bank of Lapland had been very kind in saying thanks but no thanks, we really can’t extend your overdraft facility. And the credit card, well all those additional points might be useful for flying somewhere at some point, but it always seemed a bit silly to add to the household’s Avios balance when the sleigh didn’t get used much during the summer.
So it seemed very fortuitous indeed when Mrs Claus forwarded on the email from the nice lady at the blue fizzy drinks company. It had been very charming indeed. She knew it was very irregular to be emailing directly, but she wasn’t actually asking for a present — she was offering one instead.
She’d been even more charming when she’d come to visit he and Mrs Claus a few weeks later, effusive in her thanks for meeting her and listening to her crazy idea. It started, she explained, when her boss had asked for some really radical thinking about how to make the brand stand out during the holiday season — “We really need to win it this year!” she quoted her boss as saying, even miming the accompanying chest-beating and fist-pumping.
Knowing it was always the hardest brief of the year, she’d done some research and discovered what to her was a shocking fact: that Santa hadn’t been invented by Coca-Cola! It was almost outrageous, that people thought that the soft drink had created you, when clearly that wasn’t the case, and that you’d lent your image in the past to sell mineral water and even ginger ale!
And as she’d learnt early in her career that if you don’t ask you don’t get, well, there didn’t seem any harm in at least trying and suggesting to you, Santa, that as you’re not actually paid or owned by Coca-Cola in any particular way, well perhaps you wouldn’t mind — for one Christmas only, and then we can see how it goes — to wear a bit of blue while you’re on your rounds this holiday season?
We’d make it worth your while of course. Certainly enough so that your digital toys 2.0 line could be ready for next year.
He thought of all this while feeling the cloth of his suit. As much as he didn’t want to admit, he knew it’d take time for him to get used to the light blue velvet with dark blue trim.
Still, he had to admit that all that shiny bright blue wrapping paper on the back of the sleigh looked lovely. And Rudolph was especially pleased with the blue make-up he had on his nose. It had made everyone around him happy. And wasn’t that what mattered most?
He checked himself over in the mirror again. Behind him Mrs Claus appeared, an approving smile on her face. “Darling, you didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you?” Mrs. Claus handed her husband a small wrapped box. He tore it open without even bothering to shake it to get an idea of what was inside.
The smile that spread across his face was as big as it had ever been. He kissed his wife on her forehead, whispering “Thank you.”
He held up the can of Coca-Cola, sure he would never enjoy another one as much as this one.