Only a few more days until you head back to the North Pole to get your well-deserved vacation of 11 months (Where can I apply for that job?). You've been with humankind for hundreds of years, transforming from a third-century boy bishop and miracle worker, to Christmas Eve sleigh-driving legend.
And, what have we done to you? We adjusted our vision of Santa to our culture: fanciful, exuberant, over-weight, and overly commercial. Your embodiment of human ideals like innocence, selfless giving, unfaltering love, justice and mercy are often overshadowed by the challenges our world is facing: greed, mindless materialism and selfishness.
I don't have to tell you what happened: Christmas music in October, Black Friday, mall madness Saturday – you've heard it all before. I've been working in advertising for the majority of my life and I know we tend to go too far. We tend to focus on the 'more' too much and not on the 'better'. We dilute your brand, make fun of you, remix you, mash you up. Anything to transfer some of that magic into our work.
Miraculously, all the things we've done to you have not diminished the magic you bring into our lives. You're much deeper than a commercially created character. You give us hope, you connect us with our inner child and you help us understand that giving is better than receiving. As Clement Clark Moore wrote in his poem "A visit from Saint Nicholas"
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread
And, dear Santa Claus, that's my wish for next year: Our industry needs to connect with their inner Santa Claus. Rediscover their soul. Focus on the 'better'. Create more signals, less noise. Don't be fearful of the future, embrace it. Create wonder and amazement. Draw out the child in us. Have more of that Santa quality in our daily lives.
As you said in your famous letter to Virginia:
"You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which neither the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding."
My promise to you: Less tearing apart. More exploration of the unseen world. Getting in touch with the inner Santa on a daily basis.
Uwe Hook is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. (www.bateshook.com) and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at email@example.com.
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