Human diversity means that when it comes to Santa Claus’ appearance, the public allows a a certain amount of flexibility. The big man is in so much demand at this time of year that if only those closely resembling Coca Cola’s archetypal Santa made the grade, Christmas would be even more synonymous with queues and tantrums – and no parent wants that.
Most of the time, close enough is good enough when it comes to Santas, but every now and then somebody comes along who hits all the Santa notes. New World’s latest TVC features an employee, Noel, who strolls through his workplace carrying out suspiciously Santa-like activities.
Snow-white beard: Check.
Kindly blue eyes: Check.
Red clothing: Check.
Senior model Paul Mason created a viral sensation when he fronted a Canadian mall’s Christmas shopping campaign. Mason, who has been modeling for major brands for 30 years, told The Guardian that people started commenting on his resemblance to Santa as soon as he grew out his spotlessly white beard.
The Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto saw the potential in this fashionable Father Christmas and had him pose around the mall while incorporating Christmas traditions with nods to pop culture. He wears current, form-fitting clothing in Santa-friendly red, white and black; takes selfies; brandishes a Christmas tree while a shearling coat drapes attractively over his shoulders; and stands on the roof as if just dropped off by a team of reindeer.
Money from the successful campaign will be donated to a foundation which raises funds for sick children. The donations were initially tied to the number of selfies snapped by shoppers posing with Mason, but will now be a flat donation of $10,000.
Yorkdale marketing director Lucia Connor says people were attracted to the fact that Mason looks attractive, but also looks like Santa: “If you had to envision a Fashion Santa, this is it.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man who’s already spent a lifetime in the spotlight, Mason is handling all the excitement with grace. He told The Guardian there was “something special about spreading joy at this time of year”.
“I’ve taken photos with everyone from newborn babies to 70-year-old women and even puppies,” Mason says. “Most people seem to be excited about the concept of taking a picture with Santa again and getting into the holiday spirit. I had an elderly woman take a photo with me the other day who couldn’t stop giggling and said she hadn’t taken a photo with Santa since she was six.”
Curiously, Mason also participated in a very similar campaign run by Mexican mall El Palacio de Hierro, ‘Mr Claus’.