Santa scores big in side gig as pitch personSanta Claus was one busy dude this Christmas. Besides his full-time gig delivering gifts, he had a packed promotional schedule pitching everything from smartphones to pain relievers. His performances brought holiday cheer -- and industry accolades -- to the companies using him to advertise their wares.

Apple (AAPL) put the iconic figure to work in its "Santa Uses Siri" television ad, giving the computer maker top billing in ACE Metrix's ranking of the most effective holiday ads. Other companies featuring the gray-bearded one:

  • Coca-Cola (KO), which ranked No. 3 on effectiveness, turned to old St. Nick for its "Santa Shakes A Snow Globe" ads.
  • Bayer Healthcare's Aleve commercial, which posted in sixth place, used Santa in its "Get a Pain-Free Holiday" ad. (Apparently even Santa gets a few aches and pains lugging around a bag full of toys.)
  • Macy's (M), meanwhile, ranked No. 8 with its Santa ad, and Best Buy (BBY) took 10th place with its snarky "Game On" Santa ad.

"Santa's negotiating power has increased based on the effectiveness of this year's top holiday ads. 'Twas the season of storytelling and Santa as Star," Peter Daboll, Ace Metrix's CEO, said in a statement. "It turns out Santa sells: There were 35 new ads that featured Santa Claus this season, and each one scored higher than the norm."

In addition to Santa and storytelling, other compelling features in ads that ranked among the most effective included philanthropy. But Santa, by and large, was the main connection point that resonated with consumers.

With Christmas now wrapped up, Santa gets to take a break, and so do the creative teams at advertising agencies that pumped out ads for the season.

Motley Fool contributor Dawn Kawamoto owns no stock in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola, Best Buy, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola and Apple, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing covered calls in Best Buy.

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The Chevy commercials are the best, I don't know who the guy is but he's the perfect Santa

December 29 2011 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked the Chevy Silverado commercial with "Nick" and the deer hunter. The deer hunter's facial expressions are priceless.

December 28 2011 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't like the Best Buy ads with the women. I guess I just don't like women who were trying to intimidate Santa. "Snarky" as the article put it.

December 28 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Side gig as pitchman?? The character Santa Claus has roots in both Christian and Pagan Europe, but he was created specifically as an ad spokesmodel for Coca Cola. The notion that Christmas should be a commercial-product purchasing contest beginning with a grand worth of "traditional" and otherwise useless decorations and utilities is entirely the genius of American marketing, most of it created by Jewish wholesalers, songwriters, and filmmakers. As for the "Holy" part, let's face it, the whole Jesus story is a pitch to get you to buy into supporting a particular establishment of religion... a tax-free highly-profitable BUSINESS in the USA and around the world. Am I objecting? Not. I'm not Christian, but I do believe in Santa Claus.

December 28 2011 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, Coca-Cola made very little use of their iconic Santa this year, opting instead to emphasize polar bears. The trouble with that is that polar bears symbolize not Christmas or even "the holidays" but winter, which for most of us is nothing to celebrate. I find this unfortunate shift in emphasis quite disheartening.

December 28 2011 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply