Along with the eggnog and scores of holiday-party invitations comes yet another seasonal tradition: Agencies showing off their technical and creative chops with holiday-related projects beyond the traditional card. Below, we pick 12 of our favorites from this year.
When the New York Post included the lads of DigitasLBi in an article about New York's Sexiest Firms, the agency decided to do something about it -- turn it into a calendar featuring the men of the agency. The calendar is "a celebration of the men at the company who walk our halls, deliver every day for our clients, and who are just good guys to have around. ... they define sexy more broadly; from brawny to brainy, from seasoned to just-getting-started, from the shy to the sociable," according to president Joanne Zaiac. It will be sold at the agency for $10, with proceeds going to charity.
Horizon: Out of the Blue
This media agency's social-media practice leveraged its listening and analytics platform to "listen" to conversations on social media from people in the industry to see what they wanted for Christmas, or if they needed a little holiday cheer. Then, it delivered to those folks a surprise gift, based on what the agency discovered about their wish list.
Bob's Your Uncle: Send Rob Ford Coal
Toronto's notorious mayor, Rob Ford, has already owned up to being naughty, not nice, this year. So Toronto creative shop Bob's Your Uncle is sending him coal for Christmas. Visitors could contribute to the pile by going to RobFordCoal.com, and for every piece of coal, Bob's Your Uncle make a donation to help children in need. In the end, the effort racked up one million lumps of coal, to be delivered today at 11:30 am at Toronto City Hall by Santa and his elves in 30 wheelbarrows.
VIA Agency: Get it to Bowie
The VIA Agency's gift this season is the gift of music -- specifically, holiday music by the agency's house band. The agency's biggest wish is that David Bowie will cover one of the band's songs, and it's asking the world to help the shop get Bowie's attention, via Twitter. VIA produced, wrote and created six original holiday tracks to support the cause. Tracks include "My Ex-Mas Hookup," "Santa Big" and "Veteran's Carol."
Zulu Alpha Kilo: Kringl App
Canadian agency Zulu Alpha Kilo is helping parents get their kids to believe in Santa with an app created in partnership with Make-A-Wish Canada. "Kringl" merges pre-formatted video featuring Santa drinking milk, checking his list, finding gifts and even realizing he's being recorded in the living room. You just have to film your own living room or location, and place Santa in the scene. You can even adjust lighting and size of Santa Claus to make it look believeable. The app also collects donations for Make-A-Wish Canada.
JWT: Holiday House
JWT has gone super-techie for its holiday "card." The creative tech team at the WPP agency's Dallas office used a 3D printer, a RaspberryPi microcomputer, electronic and programming wizardry and some woodworking, to build two "Ho-Ho-Holiday Houses." One is in Atlanta and one in New York's HQ. The New York one recognizes when someone stands in front of it, spitting out a random holiday greeting from someone in Dallas. Then, it takes a photograph of the person's reaction and posts it on a Tumblr. It is then tagged, so the "greeter" in Dallas is tagged with a "greetee" in New York.
Ell Creative: Happy Holidays
And that's not the only creative merrymaking that's happening in Texas. For those of you who thought Christmas was all about bright lights and mistletoe kisses, Houston-based Ell Creative shows us the dark side of feetie pajamas and George Michael in this film about a gift exchange gone awry.
SS&K: Secret Santa
SS&K offers up a super helpful way to get your Secret Santa gifts done this year (and, simultaneously, clear the agency of its unnecessary crap -- like an Arnold Schwarzenneger Pumping Iron instruction DVD, a subway token, and Japanese size 30.5 men's gold sneakers). Head to the Pinterest page, click on what you like, and fill out an order form with the name and info of your recipient. Seems like It's also possible to game the system and claim the crap you want for yourself -- because who wouldn't want a vintage bingo cage for their Granny Saturdays?
McCann: Lobby to End Hunger
Over the holidays, many an office lobby has featured big cardboard boxes inviting workers to donate food, clothing and toys. But McCann Detroit and supermarket client Aldi went all out with a donation drive to support the Capuchin Soup Kitchen by tapping a local artist to create a giant nutcracker out of food items in the agency's lobby. All the food in the sculpture, as well as donations it encouraged went to Capuchin. To kick off the drive, McCann hosted a performance of The Nutcracker by the Academy of Russian Ballet.
Tribal Worldwide: Tribal Table
This year, Tribal Worldwide unveiled the Feedie app, which finds a way to turn foodies' meal pic-taking habit into meals for those in need. When diners use the app to take pictures of their meals at participating restaurants (which include New York institutions like The Spotted Pig, La Esquina and Del Posto), that restaurant will make a donation to non-profit The Lunchbox Fund, which provides meals to poor and at-risk school kids. For the holidays, Tribal has now applied the app to any holiday meal. When users select "Tribal Table" as a location and shoot their holiday dinners, the agency will provide its own donation to The Lunchbox Fund.
Gerry Graf/Jonathan Schoenberg: Bawx
Gerry Graf of Barton F. Graf 9000 and Jonathan Schoenberg of TDA/Boulder are old friends who have known each other for 20 years. Now, they come together for a clever charity project that's quite simply the best cardboard "bawx" you'll ever buy. It's the perfect gift for the kid who loves playing with boxes, and costs $24.99. For that low price, it can turn into a submarine, a castle, a robot, or anything you want. And the money goes to Blue Sky Bridge, Boulder, Colo., and the Charley Davidson Leukemia Fund in Boston. All costs are borne by Mr. Graf and Mr. Schoenberg's agencies.
Arnold New York: Arnaments
What are the holidays without homemade ornaments? In lieu of the traditional holiday card, Arnold New York created "Arnaments" a series of craftsy, personalized decorations for its clients. All of them are on display on the Arnaments Tumblr.
Publicis Groupe: The More, The Merrier
Last year, Publicis Groupe took full advantage of YouTube's annotation feature with an interactive greeting card featuring Maurice Levy. This year, it works with agency DigitasLBi for another tech feat -- this time, the video recognizes how many people are watching the video with you.
Since Publicis' own family is about to grow with the merger, the theme this year is "The More, the Merrier." So two people releases confetti, while more brings gospel singers, cheerleaders, Chinese dragons and more. The video uses your webcam and facial recognition to count how many people are watching the video together.