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  • 12.19.11

The Creative Agency Holiday Greeting Rundown: The Best (And One Worst)

From tedious to top-notch, the holiday greetings of creative agencies have become a calling card in more ways than one. They’re seasonal niceties, sure, but they’re also a high-profile spec creative showcase. As such, they should be judged, goodwill aside. Here, we run down the best of the season.

The Creative Agency Holiday Greeting Rundown: The Best (And One Worst)

When you’re an advertising agency or similarly creative entity, delivering messages across media, to a global audience, all year long, you’re held to a higher standard when it comes to your seasonal communications. It’s become a tradition among ad agencies to send out clever, typically digitally driven holiday messages to clients and friends at the end of the year. In fact, some agencies seem to be actively trying to one-up each other with the best cards. If it’s a competition they want, then that is what they’ll get. We’ve evaluated the field and chosen winners (and, in one case, a big loser) in several holiday categories.

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Best Outlet For Seasonal Rage
This clip by Toronto-based agency, Rethink, gives viewers four options for which holiday-themed annoyance they wish to see rendered in piñata-form. Not only can users choose whether it’s “annoying relatives” or “parking” that get busted up, they can control the speed at which the piñatas are destroyed. That should take care of a few minutes’ worth of stress.

Best Parody
What’s already a clever spoof of the BBC hit, Frozen Planet, becomes even funnier when it’s revealed to be a dig at outspoken British media personality Janet Street-Porter. This greeting from London’s Lean Mean Fighting Machine is ice cold.

Best Santa-Skewing Satire: Office Edition
In this mockumentary by the folks at Fold7, the contributions of an employee, Santa, at the advertising agency are accepted as business as usual. “We’re kind of passionate about creating close relationships with our clients,” says one creative. “In his role as Father Christmas, that’s what he’s all about.”

Best Santa-Skewing Satire: Scary Movie Edition
Canadian shop Acart delivers the goods with their eerily pitch perfect parody of the Paranormal Activity franchise.

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Citation For Overachievement

Wieden + Kennedy went all out this year, with not one but two cool interactive holiday cards. The first, from Wieden London, called “A Choir of You,” features video from a real window in which passersby who stop to take a look have their faces recorded and inserted into the various singers of a chorus of carolers.

W+K card #2 invites users to participate in three separate scripted holiday dinners via webcam. It’s the only thing that might make your own awkward holidays seem manageable by comparison. Read more about the virtual dinner here.

Best Emotional Manipulation
In these lean times, everyone who’s gainfully employed has had it drilled into their collective head–they should be glad to have their jobs. The children of staff at Boston-based Metal Creative echo this sentiment in MC’s holiday card, thanking the clients of their parents for ensuring that there will be presents this Christmas. The highlight is hearing one of the little moppets explain the difficulty of demonstrating ROI for a marketing campaign.

Best Gift That Keeps On Giving
New York-based agency Thornberg & Forester developed an app which allows users to create and email an astonishing variety of funny holiday cards of their own.

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Best Booze-Themed
Germ issues aside, beer pong is a game widely beloved by college students and advertising executives. Agency Saatchi & Saatchi L.A. sent out a holiday card this year that invites users to virtually participate in a game of beer pong’s festive cousin, NogPong.

Best Booze Booze
Chicago-based packaging studio, Vessel, knows what people like: alcohol. With their holiday card this year, they waste no frills and get down to the crux, demonstrating their packaging skills by designing their own gift-y beer bottles.

Most Conducive to Holiday Stalking, Part 1
In its holiday card for Marshall’s and HomeGoods, Austin-based agency GSD&M/Lollipop send a group of carolers right to your door, literally. By integrating Google Maps into the interactive site, GSD&M’s card mimics the feel of actual caroling right up to the line of discomfort.

Best Family Animation
Washington-based creative agency Royale is betting its clients have a soft spot for Pixar shorts, which is a pretty safe bet. The company’s brief animated holiday card features a little boy trying desperately to sneak an early peek at his Christmas present. It’s a bit of a letdown at the end, but cute nonetheless.

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Worst Family Animation (And Best Christmas Card From Hell)
British filmmaker Cyriak (profiled previously on Co.Create), gets all Tim Burton meets Hieronymous Bosch with this macabre animation that features both Santa Claus and a skull that vomits out other skulls.

Best Attention to Detail
It might not make you laugh, but Japan-based agency Dentsu’s holiday card demonstrates just how much care goes into everything they do by showcasing the meticulous assemblage of just one creative holiday card.

Most Creative Calendar, Kitten Edition
New York-based shop Big Fuel teams up with the Humane Society to celebrate “the single most popular animal on the internet.” That’s right: It’s raining kittens inside what is probably the world’s first ever Catvent Calendar.

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Most Creative Calendar, Writ Large Edition
What strategy did the London arm of TBWA/Chiat/Day agency use for its holiday card? Think big. The company commissioned 24 artists to each create a painting in a different window of the TWBA offices, which together forms the U.K.’s biggest ever advent calendar. The name of the project? What else: Ad\vent.

Most Terrifying Depiction of Santa
Not to be outdone, the New York offices of TBWA/Chiat/Day came up with a Holiday .Gif Giver, which hosts a large assortment of .gifs users can send out online, including the most terrifying of all Santas: the Santa-Spider.

Most Conducive to Holiday Stalking, Part 2
Chicago agency Draft FCB believes in transparency. That is why it set up a functionality that lets ad agencies from all over the world post pictures from their office holiday parties. Do you want to see who drank too much egg nog in London? You might be able to with this.

Best Non-Agency
The staff at Saturday Night Live may not run a full-service marketing agency, but they knew enough to put their hot property front and center in their holiday card this year. New York’s hottest card is… Stefon.

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And, The Worst. Just The Worst
Also a non-agency entry, this one, from First Round Capital, doesn’t really need any explanation, just a question: When will people stop doing these things?

Happy Holidays

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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