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Using data visualizations to dissect the jolliest brand of them all?
23 Dec, 2011 - Lachlan James

What makes Santa Claus so mystical? Is it the sleigh? The beard? The fat suit? The inimitable (and somewhat repetitive) catch phrase? Hard to say.

The reputation, connotation and imagery associated with Western culture’s and hyper-consumerism’s pin-up boy is almost as indecipherable as it is unmistakable.

But, true as that is, accepting the rotund gift-givers inscrutability and ambiguity is a cop-out; and a position we can’t, in good conscience, endorse. To do so would undermine our position as a leader in Business Intelligence (BI) software. Let me explain.

We live and breathe BI – it’s our job. And the job of reporting and analytics, is to decipher trends, and establish the what, when, where, why, how and who.

So as you can see, we’ve got a mandate, neigh, a responsibility, to help spread the demystification of the Santa brand.


Data visualizations: Making the complex simple

UK based communications consultancy – Quietroom – employed a range of clever, hilarious and edgy chart types to dissect the mystery.

We’d like to share them with you, to once again prove how using intuitive data visualizations in crucial reports and presentations can facilitate knowledge sharing, information comprehension, retention, understanding and interpretation.


The age of innocence

But before we ruin the magic, dismembering Santa’s impenetrable allure and exposing it for the ingenious marketing ploy that it truly is, let’s establish the ‘when’.

When are we most vulnerable to the commercial call-to-arms of our Coke-swilling, toilet paper endorsing friend?



Ah huh! Just as we always suspected. Santa’s best opportunity to dip his tinsel-tipped, smiling fingers into our (or Mum and Dad’s) hip pocket is during the vulnerable childhood years. Specifically, between the ages of five and 10, when our cognitive development (advertising defense) is incomplete, but our pester-power is fully optimized. Additionally, ensuring the Santa assault is at its heaviest during the early years, severely reduces the likely distraction and pulling-power of competing belief systems, creating a life-long customer.


Dissecting the Santa brand

So what about the man in question? What makes the idea of Santa so unique? Where does he get his pulling power from; what makes it/him so irrepressible?



Well, as you can see, it’s a fiendishly inspired combination of magic, jollyness and justice. On theme-based attributes, Moses comes close, but he’s always been a little too serious. The slogan? Made up of elements from Ho, Ho and Ho – who knew? As for Rudolph; the A-team almost had the little scamp covered, but most of them are too old to generate the necessary facial blood-flow to trump Rudolph’s rosy honker.


Understanding the competition

Now that the Santa brand is understood from an internal perspective, our attention turns to the competition. What are the external marketplace threats to the Santa brand?

As suggested in our introduction, the fatiness and beardiness of Santa are two strong brand identifiers, and research has indicated these to be the two most significant physical brand assets.




J.K Rowling’s fictional character Rubeus Hagrid, from the Harry Potter series, unquestionably poses the biggest threat to brand Santa. We also agree that Kylie is to Santa as slow is to Usain Bolt.

But, it’s also fairly clear that ZZ top are encroaching on Santa’s reputational space far more than this data set gives them credit for. I mean, have you seen those guys lately? They’re stacking on the Christmas pudding. Perhaps we need to check the validity and date of the underlying data…


Mystery solved: Have a magical, jolly and justice-filled Christmas

There. Data visualizations, coupled with the right data analysis, have done it again – just in time to explain/ruin Christmas.

Happy holidays,

The team at Yellowfin.

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