It’s a common belief that Santa is based off of St. Nicholas- a generous Saint who gave presents to needy children. However, it was the Dutch Sinterklass (see the resemblance), who himself was largely inspired by St.Nick, who inspired the modern, western Santa Claus. He is nearly identical to Santa; he wears red and white, knows if you’re naughty or nice, and has elf helpers/possibly drones referred to as Zwarte Piet. He differed from Santa in that he wears a bishop’s hat and rides on steam boat from Spain, rather than the North Pole. All in all, he’s much more exotic.
Another large influence on the construction of Santa Clause is the British Father Christmas, a figure developed in the 17th century as the human manifestation of holiday joy. The modern Santa Clause, was not created by Coco-Cola, but has been in American folklore since the late 18th century.