Conversations With Claus Vol. 1

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The moment those New Year’s champagne flutes are put away and stored for next year’s party, Santa’s off-season starts. Let’s face it–delivering toys to all seven continents is exhausting work (yes, those rugged outposts in Antarctica get gifts delivered too). And while he loves answering all those snail mail letters from eager boys and girls from Timbuktu to Tasmania, by December 24th, Santa’s over-worked writing hand needs some relief. Santa’s offseason allows him to recharge, to explore his other hobbies and gifts, and Santa’s greatest gift, according to him, is amateur pop psychology.

For years he has watched as Dear Abby and Anne Landers offered hack advice to troubled letter writers from all over America. Here he was, literally the oldest, most travelled and experienced man in the world, someone who had conquered time and all the world’s chimneys. Here he was after all these years with the most recognizable brand identity in the world, and all anyone wanted from him were toys, an iPhone6, and a new Callaway driver.

Santa has so much more to offer than anyone imagined, and with the advent of Skype, Twitter, Gmail and all the other tools of social media, he can offer smug advice more smugly, widely and rapidly than Anne or Dear Abby ever could through the medium of newspapers and snail mail.

Let’s face it–snail mail is on the wane. Other than those holiday cards and your Bacon-of-the-Month-Club deliveries, essential communication happens digitally these days. Santa knows this, and while he may be older than Methuselah, he is every bit as hip and tech savvy as Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin (when did those guys become hip?).

A couple of months ago, Santa reached out to us at Mobile Illumination, a holiday company that he respects, with a bold new plan to re-brand himself as the Digital Dr. Phil. We would provide the advice-seekers and the multi-faceted social media platform, and he would provide the kind of advice that only a man who has lived over a millennium, and who has crossed paths with everyone from Charlemagne to Clayton Kershaw, can give.

In this first installment, Phil, a local Budget Director for LACME Entertainment, is about to go live with Santa, to ask for help with the year’s budget plan.

PhilHey, Mr. Claus, this is Phil Frankfurter from Los Angeles, CA.
Hey, Phil, just call me Santa or Nick. What seems to be the problem?Santa
PhilWell, Mr. Claus…err…Nick, the problem is this year’s Budget.
SantaIt’s always the budget at this time of year, isn’t it? The post-Christmas credit card bills come right after the gifts. Every year, Mrs. Claus and her Neiman Marcus bill, and don’t even get me started on my Union Troubles with the Elves. But that’s beside the point—tell me about your budget problems, Phil?
PhilWell, Santa, every New Year means a new plan, and the people I work for…well let’s just say I’m dealing with champagne tastes on a beer budget. The more I try to save the more they want to spend, and they want to shoot the messenger the moment they get the budget brief.
SantaI know exactly how you feel, Phil. I may wear red but I bleed Dodger blue, and I just told Clayton Kershaw I couldn’t guarantee him a World Series Championship this Christmas. He didn’t take the news well, and I don’t like to make a man with a 98 mph fastball angry. So anyway, your boss likes to shoot the messenger too?
PhilExactly, Santa.
SantaSo does every boss in America, Phil. That’s nothing new. So how can I help you then?
PhilIt all comes down to this–How can I save money without looking cheap?
SantaAhhh, the age-old question. The first bit of advice I have for you is this: don’t ever short-change quality in the name of dollar savings. For example, my sleigh cost me all the gold in a Pharaoh’s tomb but has lasted me over 1,000 years. The second bit of advice is to plan early. For example, the Christmas after that final Harry Potter book came out, I advance ordered 50,000,000 books wholesale, paying a third less than the books would have cost me that Christmas. Let’s just say that December I made Bill Gates and Warren Buffett look like taco-truck vendors.
PhilSo what you are telling me is that by planning early, I don’t have to settle for less quality? I can save more and not skimp on quality.
SantaExactly, Phil. You can have your champagne on a craft beer budget.
PhilThat’s great advice, Santa. I wish we spoke sooner. This past year I went cheap for the holiday decorations, and it cost me dearly. I hired Lights-4-Less to do the lighting at our Corporate Campus in Burbank, and let’s just say they made us look LAME, and I mean literally. In fact, when we first lit up our Corporate Campus sign, the “C” in LACME Entertainment wouldn’t light, and for a week, literally every driver on the Golden State Freeway saw LAME Entertainment flashing through their windshield in retro purple neon. Not exactly brilliant holiday brand marketing–Any other good advice Santa?
SantaYes, Phil, learn from those hard lessons the first time. Remember the early bird gets the first Lemming (that’s how we say it in the North Pole). Start planning next year now, and when it comes to lighting, call the true craftsmen, go with Mobile Illumination, a lighting company founded on Christmas spirit that can guarantee you the best quality while offering significant savings for planning early. Even better, if you start early, they will even throw in a free Christmas Tree. And believe me, I would do anything for a Christmas Tree these days—we don’t have any of those here in the center of the Artic Circle.
PhilThank you so much, Santa, that’s all great advice.
SantaYour welcome, Phil. And can I offer you one more bit of budget advice?
PhilWhat’s that, Santa?
SantaHow is your emotional budget, Phil? How is Phil taking care of Phil?
PhilPhil taking care of Phil? My emotional budget? I’m sorry, Santa but I’ve got Season 3 of House of Cards streaming on the television and my son just tweeted me. I’ve gotta run.
SantaBut wait, Phil, please, just one more thing….Phil…Phil, are you there?

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