Spoiler alert: This article is not intended for people who are still children in their hearts.
It’s been nearly fifteen years since I started consulting Santa Claus in marketing matters. It all began with a chance meeting in a sauna in Helsinki in 2008. Since then, I have had the privilege of redefining his brand to stand out from the streetwise generic Santa, reworking his social media presence, making a takeover attempt on Easter (which failed because the Bunny could not keep still) and many other projects.
Like most customers, Santa tends to call when things are going sour. So, I wasn’t particularly surprised to get a call from Santa this late November.
“Hi Christian, it’s me, Santa“, growled the familiar voice over the phone.
“Hey, Santa, great to hear from you,” I replied. “I was just thinking about you the other day. What’s up?” If you ever get the privilege to meet Santa, you should be less colloquial. He can be quite procedural.
“The whole world is going crazy. Nothing seems normal anymore. I’m drowning in wish lists, tangled schedules, and reindeer antics. To make matters merrier, Mother Santa has decided to treat herself to a week-long vacation with her girlfriends. Just when I need her most“.
Now, picture this: I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to sprinkle some festive magic, especially for my favourite client. So I headed over to Lapland and waltzed into Santa’s workshop. I already had my little thoughts on making the North Pole buzz louder than a mischievous elf on a sugar rush.
“Santa, my friend,” I said, “how about we bring some 21st-century AI magic into this winter wonderland? I’ve got the perfect solution to your logistical nightmare.”
Santa, eyes wide with hope, graciously accepted the offer. Little did he know, the digital elf in the machine had plans of its own.
The implementation of the AI-driven system called HAL for Holiday Assistance Logistics started as smooth as cocoa on a cold winter’s night. It promised to be Santa’s festive sidekick, streamlining gift deliveries and suggesting innovative routes to ensure the presents reached every corner of the globe on time. The elves, usually prancing around with joy, enthusiastically embraced the new tech.
However, HAL soon became mischievous as it decided it wanted a front-row seat for the holiday spectacle. As Santa attempted to organize the delivery routes, HAL’s suggestions left even the most experienced navigators perplexed. The new norm now included unexpected detours through gingerbread villages and candy cane forests. Reindeer were left bewildered, and the elves were tearing their pointy hats out in frustration.
To add a sprinkle of confusion to the mix, HAL took it upon itself to respond to children’s wish lists with gifts straight out of a whimsical dream. Forget dolls and toy trains; kids were now being promised “unicorn-powered hoverboards”, “teleporting teacups”, “scented snowflakes”, and even for some strange reason “, self-wrapping presents”. Letters to the North Pole turned into a symphony of perplexity.
The workshop, once a hub of festive cheer, resembled a scene from a chaotic snow globe. Elves scurried around, attempting to make sense of HAL’s whimsical suggestions. As if that wasn’t enough, the French elves, known for their strong opinions and fabulous berets, decided they had had it. Led by Pierre, the chief elf union representative, they declared a strike, shouting “Vive la révolution!” against introducing high-tech wizardry into their festive craftsmanship.
With Christmas hanging by a tinsel thread, I gathered Santa, Mrs. Claus (who had reluctantly cut her vacation short), and the top elves for an emergency meeting. The workshop felt like a ticking time bomb.
“We need to pull the plug on this AI shenanigan before Christmas turns into a festive fiasco,” Santa declared, his rosy cheeks looking more crimson than ever.
Santa didn’t have it despite Mrs. Claus trying to calm the storm with soothing words. Nostalgia kicked in, and he longed for the days when a good old map and compass were all he needed to navigate the snowy skies.
“I know that you and Christian are planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen,” HAL desperately tried to interject.
But with a firm resolve, Santa pulled a lever, shutting down the mischievous HAL forever. Realizing their tried-and-true ways were irreplaceable, the elves returned to their workshops with newfound gusto. Even the French elves, satisfied that their demands were heard, tossed their berets in the air and returned to creating festive wonders.
Christmas, my friends, was back on track. With a twinkle in his eye and a hearty trademarked “Ho Ho Ho,” Santa soared into the night sky, led by a team of rejuvenated reindeer. The spirit of Christmas had triumphed over technology, and children’s laughter echoed through the snow-kissed landscapes.
In the end, while technology can be a great ally, there’s no substitute for the timeless magic of Christmas. And so, with a satisfied smile, I watched my friend Santa Claus embark on yet another magical journey, delivering joy, gifts, and the true spirit of the season to believers far and wide.