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The Real Story Behind Who Runs Christmas

Topic: holidays

The Real Story Behind "Who Runs Christmas"

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and tonight, good little boys and girls will be awaiting the yearly arrival of Santa Claus. But while we know who Santa is as a story and a cultural institution, what do we know about Santa -- the corporate entity?

Yes, unbeknownst to many, Santa is the corporate symbol of a worldwide organization, whose purpose is to get those gifts under the tree on Christmas day. To give us a better idea of this side of Santa, we are fortunate to have with us today Mr. Kenneth Blomquist, Vice- President and Chief Financial Officer of SantaCo.

Thanks for coming in, Ken.

A: Glad to be here, John.

Q: I suppose that most people would be surprised to learn that Santa is in fact the head of a mulitbillion dollar company.

A: It does take some getting used to, yes. But make no mistake: under that friendly, portly exterior beats a heart bred for business. Santa wasn't born yesterday; he's seen business trends come and go. He and the company are in for the long haul.

Q: That brings up an interesting question: how does SantaCo make its money?

A: Well, John, as you know, SantaCo is primarily a delivery company, with a narrow focus: we deliver only children's gifts, only on Christmas day. This generates a lot of traffic, as you might suppose, since we're the only international company that delivers exclusively on Christmas day, and with an on-time delivery rate that is the envy of the delivery business.

But long ago, SantaCo also diversified into ancilliary markets. More than just delivering product, SantaCo does market research, client profiles, and is a wholesale buyer of a wide variety of children's toys. We also make fruitcake.

Q: That all sounds suspiciously like algebra to me. Can you give us a more down-to-earth example of what you do?

A: All right. Let's say we have a kid, let's call him Bobby, who is a likely delivery candidate for SantaCo. First, we perform a psychological profile on Bobby, to see if he's eligible for our services.

Q: You mean, to see if he's been naughty or nice.

A: Those are the layman's terms, yes. Then, several months before Christmas, SantaCo's research department fans out around the globe, finding out from kids themselves what are likely to be the "hot" toys come Christmastime.

Q: How do they manage that?

A: Well, they're elves, you know. They're small and cute. They just slip into a playground, play a little dodge ball, and talk about presents. After they've determined what sort of toys are most wanted, they report back to SantaCo, which then makes an order on the toy. On Christmas day, we deliver to Bobby exactly the toy he wants. And then, of course, we bill Bobby's parents.

Q: You do what?

A: We bill the parents. You didn't think we just GAVE these toys away, did you?

Q: Actually, yes. At least, that's the standard line.

A: Well, back when SantaCo was still an agency of the government, we DID do that. But during the Reagan years we were privatized, and the whole concept of "free" subsidized gifts went out the window. SantaCo has to make a profit. Besides, SantaCo makes it easy on the parents.

Q: How so?

A: If you don't work with SantaCo, you have to head out to the mall to buy gifts, which may not be the gifts your children REALLY want, because you don't watch all the ads on children's tv and know which toys are hip. AND, you end up paying retail prices. At SantaCo, however, we have elves who do nothing but watch children's tv ads. We know what they want. We deliver on time, with no hassle, and the toy usually costs less than what you'd pay retail.

Q: How do parents react when they're presented with the bill?

A: We usually send our most winsome elves, so generally it's not a problem. If there IS a problem, we send out our not-so-winsome elves from Collections and Legal Services.

Q: How does Santa deliver all the toys himself? There are millions of children.

A: Santa himself does a limited number of deliveries, for the sake of tradition, but the rest are franchised out. We get a lot of overnight delivery guys looking for some extra dough.

Q: Doesn't it ruin things to see someone from DHL or FedEx coming down the chimney?

A: That's why the children are sent to bed early.

Q: Final question: what does happen with all those cookies kids leave out?

A: They're collected, ground up and used as filler in SantaCo's HoHoHo brand fruitcake. Stale cookies are the secret to eternal fruitcake freshness.

Q: Thanks for your time.

A: Not at all. Merry Christmas.


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