In our discipline we help people and companies find and tell their “why”.
Why is more than what. It helps connect the commercial reason for being to something more personal and personable.
Lately, it seems Santa has lost his why.
There used to be something magical about the notion you could write down what you wanted, send off the message and, if you were very good, it would be delivered right to your house. Now it’s called Amazon.
On Auckland’s Queen St, there used to be a giant Santa on the corner of a department store. He not only winked, he also beckoned merrily to every girl and boy. That was in more innocent times. Today, he does neither. Yesterday’s cheery invitation is today’s leering beckon, so the giant decoration now stays still.
Santa even got fired — and then reinstated — from his place in his eponymous parade, for observing women cannot be Santa. Cue the outrage. And then a week later, even more outrage on social media when a regional town hosted a parade in which Santa wore a red Maori cloak, but not the obligatory red suit, white beard, black gumboots ensemble.
So how can we give Santa his why back? Scholars of modern marketing will remind us that Santa is a construct, created to sell more cola. Scholars of social history though will say the red suited gent was in fact a fancier dressed version of earlier models, themselves fashioned after a saint.
While they are right, are they not missing a point? Santa’s why is not about the stuff and nonsense over the fanciest toys, the finest foods or the most fabulous holiday.
Santa’s why is that wonderful window in childhood when you see the world as you want it to be. It is a world where logic can’t interfere with the magic. It has all sorts of interesting inhabitants like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and the odd scary one like the monster under the bed. And there’s room in there for a baby in a manger.
Santa’s why is the anticipation on Christmas Eve and the “wow” on Christmas morning. Santa’s why is the nudge that ensures you support the charities doing their level best to ensure no child misses this experience.
Santa’s why is giving us that interlude in life when anything is possible if you believe. If we are very lucky, we get to keep it.