It’s no secret that 2020 has been a strange year. If you’re like many companies, you had to constantly pivot and evolve to keep up with changing rules and regulations as well as consumer behaviors. The uncertainty has not been easy for anyone, but there are many small businesses that have found ways to adapt and delight customers even through these trying and unprecidented times.
As the holidays approach, a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning. Companies and brands of all sizes are figuring out how to cater to holiday shopping needs while following strict public health guidelines to help people shop safely. Some are also using the opportunity to reimagine our favorite holiday characters and traditions. For dozens of brands worldwide, “masked Santa” has become an unexpected and delightful holiday hit.
Mask up messaging
One of the most persistent messages from public health officials has been to wear a mask in public. According to Mayo Clinic (citing the CDC and WHO), as we’ve learned more about the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and how it spreads, masks have been shown to help reduce airborne transmission.
While this message is critical to the health and safety of the public, it doesn’t mean that brands can’t have a little fun with it. Masking up has become a way to protect yourself and others, so it makes perfect sense that companies, whose entire reputations are built on giving, would participate during the holiday season. As consumers prepare for what will be a strange holiday season, Santa Claus is doing what he can to comply with health regulations by wearing a mask himself.
Masked Santa is a holiday hit
Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho” will be a little bit muffled this year as he wishes people a merry Christmas and happy holidays from behind his COVID-19 mask. As retailers gear up to sell holiday gifts, a masked Santa Claus has become a timely reminder of the environment we’re living in. From confections to ornaments to handcrafted trinkets, Santa and his elves are found wearing masks more often than not — and people are loving it.
Stores like Laszlo Rimoczi’s Hungarian chocolate shop have shifted from making traditional Santa-themed delicacies, with big beards, red hats and bags full of toys, to ones where Santa is also wearing his mask. When Rimoczi, who has been making chocolates for many years in his shop near Budapest, began making these masked Santas, he hoped they would brighten people’s spirits at the end of what has been a long and difficult year. What he didn’t expect was the surge of orders he got. In fact, he’s sold so many masked Santa chocolates in and outside Hungary that he can barely keep up with demand.
He told Reuters that Santa, like the rest of us, will be wearing his mask as he delivers toys on Christmas Eve, “because Santa has to show a good example to people.”
Greek candlemaker Alexios Gerakis decided to add masks to his Father Christmas candles this season as a way to boost sales in a year filled with uncertainty. His candles, which are all made by hand and accompany several other holiday-themed decorations in his shop in Thessaloniki, Greece, now include a blue surgical mask covering the mouth and nose of jolly old St. Nick. Other characters like snowmen and gingerbread men also don the masks.
It seems unlikely that we will forget everything that has transpired in 2020, but many crafty businesses are finding ways to help us memorialize all the crazy things that happened with unique ornaments. Retailers like Brooklyn Vibe and Bronner’s offer ornaments that include all the 2020 hits — from the shortage of toilet paper to the ubiquity of hand sanitizer, from ornaments shaped like the COVID-19 virus to ones with a masked Santa Claus. You can hang these on the tree this year and for years to come, and perhaps you can even pass them along to your grandchildren as you tell the story about the one year when you had to visit 13 different stores just to find some Charmin.
Creativity continues to thrive
There is no doubt that 2020 has been a tough year for people around the globe, from the public health threats and worries of a rapidly spreading and highly contagious virus to the economic toll it has taken on countries around the world. The good news is that, amidst all the challenges, our collective creativity has continued to shine. While we might not know exactly what will happen in the coming months and years, these retailers have found a small bright spot to help cheer people up a little bit as we try to get through a dramatically different holiday season and look to a new year.