Ho Ho Ho. No, Really.

Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa!OK, so I don’t technically celebrate Christmas, but I’ve always been intrigued with the whole “belief in Santa” phenomenon. A friend of mine asked me a number of years ago to wear a full Santa outfit (and pillow – I was thinner in those days) and come to his house to hand out his family’s Christmas presents. It was a blast – I did it for 5 years.

But what’s really interesting to me about Santa is that even though (almost) everyone knows he’s not real, no one cares – everyone wants to believe that he is real. Remember the classic Miracle on 34th St. ? And not only just on pre-Reality TV, but on the sidewalks raising money for Volunteers of America, in the local mall, at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and even in your local bar.

From what I can see, some are pretty darned good (and make me feel good too), and then there are some that should be asked to turn in their reindeer!

Then I came across a One-of-a-Kind Organization – The Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas – or AORBS for short — that tries to make the Santa experience as real as possible. It’s not just about the fact that they all have real beards, but they’re trained to be all about the “Joy of Being Santa”. Their members’ average age is 59, stand 5’ 10” tall and weigh 257 lbs. And they claim to have reached more than 15MM kids over the years. Now that’s really good work!

So my Reality Check W.T.F.WINNER award for this holiday season goes to AORBS – They seem to care enough about the real idea behind Santa and they try to do it right. They get that “Santa” is not just about the red suit and the HOHOHO. They create a real conversation with the folks they touch. (And isn’t that what we have been advocating all year to marketers?) You can’t just dress the part and spout a few catch phrases (even if it is hohoho) and try to hoodwink people. You’ve gotta walk the walk. Way to go AORBS! You’re walking it for real all the way to the bank… and into our hearts!

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