Here’s How Santa’s Sleigh Would Look After Makeovers by Apple, Ikea and Other Big Brands

Gifting site Red Letter Days pimps the jolly elf’s ride

Santa's sleigh gets the brand treatment. Red Letter Days

What if marketers like Apple, Ikea and Ferrari reimagined Santa’s sleigh?

That question’s not exactly burning a hole in anyone’s brain as we hurtle toward Christmas. Regardless, U.K. gifting company Red Letter Days and digital agency Edit came up with some answers. They envisioned how the jolly elf’s ride would look after redesigns by five companies known for their distinctive and vibrant brand identities. Then, they posted detailed 3D models with tongue-in-cheek vehicle specs on a dedicated website.

First up, the futuristic Apple iSleigh—talk about a cloud-based delivery platform!—complete with a touch-screen dashboard and other (silver) bells and whistles:

Next, the Ikea Slädtur, which, we’re told, “features spacious compartments to store gifts” and “Daim Cake in the glovebox for Rudolph.”

Speaking of Rudolph, that red-nosed rascal and his prancing pals can stay home on Christmas Eve thanks to this Carlsberg sleigh—which is pulled through the sky by a unicorn (what else?):

Naturally, Red Bull’s sleigh has wings (“Fueled purely by sugar, caffeine, taurine, and B vitamins, it’s also a surprisingly environmentally sound option – the only footprint Santa leaves behind will be in the snow”), while the Ferrari model “enables Santa to reach 100 mph in just 2.5 seconds.” (Suck it, Blitzen!)

Red Letter Days has worked with Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren, providing gift experiences that put consumers behind the wheels of such supercars. “This inspired the creative team at Edit to think of ways they could reinvent Santa’s sleigh,” which debuted in a children’s poetry book in 1821, and has seen few revisions since, Red Letter Days CEO Dan Mountain tells Adweek. “To start, we wanted to give Santa the gift of a lifetime by redesigning his sleigh in the style of a Ferrari.”

Edit worked with senior visualizer Charles Townsend of The&Partnership in London, drawing inspiration from the Ferrari’s shape, color, features and sponsorships. As that concept took flight, the team began to wonder how other brand-inspired sleighs would look.

“Deciding on which companies to feature was easy,” says Mountain. “We wanted to use brands with strong messaging that people could easily identify” through color and style, with a minimum of graphics and extra explainers.

Along with Ferrari, six other companies were initially chosen, but Coca-Cola and McDonald’s didn’t make the cut. “We felt that it would be hard to differentiate between them if you took away the brand logos,” Mountain says. “For people to instantly know these were McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, we would need to use the famous ‘M’ and the Coca-Cola font.”

Of course, they debated long and hard about slapping yet another layer of commercialization on a holiday that traditionally connotes peace, joy and spirituality. (Just kidding—ho! ho! ho!)

Avoiding obvious brand elements like Mickey D’s distinctive “M” and Coke’s stylized script also made sense because, “We didn’t get permission from the companies to run this campaign,” Mountain explains. That may sound more naughty than nice, but the team likely sidestepped such legalities because “we simply re-invented Santa’s sleigh ‘in the style of,’ rather than using the exact branding.” (Phew, no stockings filled with lawsuits on Christmas Day.)

During the concept stage, Apple’s iSleigh proved the toughest (chest)nut to crack.

“This took the most time and had the most revisions,” Mountain says. “It was clear that the iSleigh needed to be at the forefront of technology while staying simple and slick. This made the design of the sleigh appear less ‘fun,’ as the cool aspects of the sleigh are within its engineering rather than aesthetics.”

Conversely, “the simplest sleigh to design was Carlsberg because of the brand’s extremely strong messaging and obvious visual branding. It is over the top, controversial, fun, and masculine–these qualities were easy to reflect in the re-design.”

Ikea’s Slädtur ranks as the team’s favorite.

“Storage is a key element for both Santa and Ikea, so we knew we would need to make this sleigh a comfortable experience as well as practical,” Mountain says. “We took some of Ikea’s most iconic and popular products and mashed them together to create a simple, clever and effective design.”

According to the campaign site, the Slädtur comes with “simple instructions” that should allow Santa and his elves to assemble the sleigh “with ease.”

So, if they start now, they should have the thing put together by Easter at the very latest!

(Ikea humor … ho! ho! ho!)


Client: Red Letter Days
Content Manager: Katie Moore

Senior Visualizer: Charles Townsend

Agency: Edit
Senior Campaign Strategist: Carrie Rose
Copywriter: Jordan Fletcher
Project Manager: Andrew Radburn
Art Director: Hannah Newcombe

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.