Advertising Advent Calendar: 25 ideas for an unconventional Christmas

December 1 from Lowe SSP3, Bogotà

Ministero de Defencia National – Operation Christmas (2011)


After 60 years of struggling against Las FARC, the longest running guerrilla warfare group in the world, 6000 guerrillas still remain in the jungles of Colombia. The Ministry of Defense asked us for an idea to demobilize the remaining guerrillas, but delivering demobilization messages to them is very difficult because they hide deeper in the jungle everyday. We discovered that Christmas is an emotional time of the year for guerrillas because they are away from their homes and loved ones, so we created a four-day operation that brought Christmas to the jungle. Along a strategic guerrilla route through the jungle, we chose a 25 meter tall tree to decorate with lights. When guerrillas approached the tree, movement sensors made it light up and a banner announced the following message:
“IF CHRISTMAS CAN COME TO THE JUNGLE, YOU CAN COME HOME. DEMOBILIZE. EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE AT CHRISTMAS.”
Result: 331 guerrillas who have demobilized acknowledged that they were motivated to finally give up their weapons thanks to this idea, that was replicated with 9 more trees. The Operation got so many people involved, that it was shown all over the world through videos, websites, social networks and blogs. Main local and international media networks like CNN and BBC broadcasted it. This Operation showed a more humane and positive side of Colombia’s internal conflict.

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December 2 from MarketingVivo, Madrid

Madrid City Council – The Wishing Tree (2008)

The Challenge was to find a relevant idea for an event that would involve citizens of Madrid, in the City Council Christmas campaign. A Christmas related idea but not a cliché. We create a concept for a participatory action that fulfilled the challenge: The Wishing Tree that grows with the wishes and hopes of Madrid citizens, for 2008. On that base we built a stunt in the Retiro Park, Madrid’s most famous park, located in the centre of the city.  Starting December 21st, a huge Christmas tree kept growing in the Retiro Park in Madrid, thanks to the participation of the citizens who went to set down their wishes for 2008, written down on helium balloons; the tree got to a height of 32 metres. 21 actors dressed up like gardener elves, with their giant snails, welcomed the visitors, and made the process easy, emotional and fun. This was a very moving experience for all participants. The action ended in a special ceremony, the tree opened up and all the balloons were released: all the wishes flew into the Madrid sky. By creating a participatory activity, we made Madrid City Council Christmas campaign, more relevant to the citizens A part from the fact of the massive participation, this was a very moving experience, not just for the kids but for grown people, who focused their energy and hopes in the moment that their balloon wishes for 2008 were feed into the tree. Result: over 120,000 people participated and wrote their wishes. Over 40,000 people attended the final event of balloons release, great media coverage in main newspapers (El Pais, El Mundo, ABC) and on main TV News. Madrid City Council wants this event to become a tradition at Christmas in following years.

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December 3 from Ogilvy Brasil

Coca-Cola – Santa’s Forgotten Letters (2011)


Coca-Cola and Christmas have always gone hand in hand. However, adults don’t care so much about Christmas anymore, and its magic is almost lost. Our challenge was to give adults a reason to believe in Christmas again.
And to do that, we decided to take them back to a time when they believed: their childhoods.
Creative execution: remember a letter you wrote to Santa as a kid? What if Santa found it now and brought to you the exact gift you had asked for many years ago? That’s exactly what we did. We searched the world and, in the little town of Santa Claus, Indiana, found the Santa Claus Museum, a place that keeps letters to Santa dating back to the 1930’s.
We went through 60.000 letters, selected 75 of them and then set out on an impossible task: to find the writers and give them the exact gifts they had asked when kids – from a Cathy Quickcurl doll to an Evel Knievel Skyrocket. We also made a video documenting the whole process, including each personalized stunt, and spread it across the world through Coca-Cola’s facebook fanpage, which has more than 25 million fans.
By creating these emotional and personalized door-to-door stunts, we gave the impacted adults a special reason to believe in Christmas again – some of them even sent us thank you emails saying they would never forget the day Santa knocked on their doors. The video was also very successful, being featured in several blogs, twitters and facebook pages. More importantly, we made adults believe in Christmas again.

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December 4 from GOSS, Gothemburg

Gothemburg Homeless Aid – Return to Sender (2008)

Gothenburg Homeless Aid is a voluntary organisation that helps the homeless, substance abusers and other vulnerable people.
People are a bit more generous around Christmas and tend to give more to those less fortunate than themselves. That’s why Christmas is a very important time for the Gothenburg Homeless Aid, a time when a large proportion of the entire year’s funding is collected.
But what can be done to stand out in the onslaught of mailings and Christmas cards? Actually, we created another Christmas card. To draw attention to all the people with no fixed abode in Gothenburg we sent out the Christmas cards in envelopes addressed to: “Lasse Persson, a doorway/tunnel/stairwell, Hisingen (a part of Gothenburg)” and wrote the details of the actual intended recipient on the back of the envelope. Obviously the Swedish post office couldn’t find Lasse because he has no real address. The mail therefore had to be returned to the ‘Sender’ address on the back of the envelope with a post office stamp saying ‘Not known at this address’. The yellow label on the envelope not only highlights the fact that there are people in Gothenburg who have nowhere to live. It makes it virtually impossible for the recipient to simply discard it without opening it and seeing what it’s all about. The Christmas card was sent to 20,000 people in Gothenburg, in the days before and after Christmas. The campaign raised SEK 1.6 million (around EUR 170,000), which is more than any other campaign for Gothenburg Homeless Aid. The result was also an increase by 60% compared to the previous Christmas campaign.

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December 5 from Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm

COOP – Update the Christmas Table (2007)

In Sweden, people are very traditional – especially when it comes to food. We eat the same Christmas dishes as our ancestors have done for hundreds of years. Many can be traced back through the generations to the time of the Vikings. Needless to say, much of this food isn’t healthy or inspiring. With this campaign, Coop wants to challenge traditional notions and introduce the target group to new ideas, including healthier Christmas food. The main goal of the campaign is to “Update the Christmas table”, which the visitor literally gets to experience.

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December 6 from Leo Burnett Lisbon

Bola Amiga (Abandoned Children Awareness) – Christmas Gift (2006)

The brief: motivate wealthier people to donate for helping abandoned children.
The solution: we decided to create a mailing peice for company directors and managers. It consisted of a Christmas gift. Only when opened, instead of a gift, they found a cardboard box with a printed image of a homeless child sleeping in it. Near the child, a card read: “For some, Christmas is never merry.” The results: donations grew 35%. Nearly 60% of the people expressed their thanks. Many felt touched by it, and wrote things like: ” The best Christmas present anyone could receive”; ” I was totally surprised”; ” My wife even cried when she saw it.”

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December 7 from Akestam Holst, Stockholm

The Swedish Post – Living Christmas Cards (2011)

Swedish Post’s (Posten) business relies on people sending tangible things (cards, packages etc.), thus in a way the rapid digital development poses a heavy threat. Year after year, we see a decline in number of Christmas cards sent, and an increase in digital messages spread around this holiday. Consequently, the objective was to inspire Swedes, primarily young people who don’t usually send tangible greetings, to send real Christmas cards and decelerate the negative trend. Main insight: people love getting cards but think it’s too much of a hassle writing and sending them – thus, sending cards needs to be more fun.
New technology merged with old-fashioned thoughtfulness resulted in “Living Christmas Cards”; the world’s first Christmas cards photographed live from the web. Our expectation was that this would re-energize Christmas cards and make them more relevant to young Swedes. A reindeer’s pen was built on the top of a mountain and web-cameras were mounted in and around it so people could take their own unique pictures from the pen through a website. “Living Christmas Cards” was connected to a web-tool called “Real Postcard” where you upload pictures and write messages, which Posten then deliver as postcards.
Since many (especially young folks) think that Christmas cards are something for the elders and that is not something they go about doing, the key in this execution was to re-define what a Christmas card can be, and not the least how to create and send one. Hence, the execution made people interact with Christmas cards in a whole new way and realize that this product is not obsolete – it’s in fact the opposite. This was also important from a brand standpoint, since Posten is often seen as old-fashioned… not so much any more.
In order to make people aware of our projects we placed advertising banners on relevant external websites, as well as on Posten’s own site, that would lead the target audience to the respective landing site. Furthermore, the message was spread through social media, which played a key role in driving traffic. Results: the negative trend for real cards decelerated heavily. 2010 became the best year ever for the “Real Postcards” web-tool (from where the Living Christmas cards were sent) – an 18% increase in sent cards compared to 2009. 55.5% of all cards sent through ”Real Postcards” were sent around Christmas, indicating that this promotional campaign was highly effective. Furthermore, the campaign generated massive impact in non-bought media. In total, PR contacts were estimated to 6.6 million (Sweden’s population: 9 million) and PR was highly positive.

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December 8 from McCann Erickson Belgium

Hospital Cavel – XMas Card Premature (2011)

Every year, the premature baby unit at Edith Cavell hospital sends cards to the other departments as well as to some ex-patients.This year, they sent this card in mid-October. When you open it, you see the message “It’s a little premature, but Happy Christmas”. The surprise to receive a Christmas card 2 months in advance was really appreciated.

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December 9 from Shackleton, Madrid

Spanair – Unexpected Luggage (2011)

Spanair flight JK5208 from Barcelona arrived at Las Palmas on the evening of Dec. 24, at a time when most European families are traditionally enjoying their main Christmas celebration. As the 190 passengers waited impatiently for their suitcases, they saw the luggage belt lurch into action — but instead of seeing their own bags, they saw an array of bright, gift-wrapped presents of all shapes and sizes parading past them. Covered in gold, silver, red, purple and green candy-stripes and decorated with flamboyant ribbons, the unexpected packages chugged past the astonished passengers. People gradually began to notice their own names on the parcels’ gift tags, but nervously watched them go past a couple of times before daring to pick them up. After awhile, they began to pick the presents up and shake them suspiciously for clues as to their contents. Eventually they tore open the wrapping to reveal gifts for every kind of passenger. For the kids there were teddy bears, giant candy bars, toy horses, cars, trumpets, puppets and costumes; and for the adults, beauty products, Lomography cameras and hats.

The passengers directed a spontaneous round of applause at the luggage belt, and each had a heart-warming tale about Spanair — which markets itself as “La de Todos” or “Everyone’s Airline” — to tell their loved ones at Christmas.
The whole stunt was planned by Spanish ad agency Shackleton, based in Barcelona. The agency’s VP, Enric Nel-lo, said in a statement, “We understand the emotional stress of traveling on such a special evening, particularly on one of the last flights, when everyone else is reunited with their families celebrating Christmas Eve. These passengers deserve a gift like the rest, with all the excitement and the surprise factor, too. It was a very special gesture for all those who have no other choice but to fly on the night of December 24th.”
Nuria Tarr, commercial director of Spanair, said in the statement, “This action strengthens the company’s image in the areas of innovation and closeness to our passengers. We’ve created a very warm and human brand experience and it’s a true reflection of the positioning we have been building since last year.”
In less than 48 hours, a YouTube video of the event received more than 100,000 views, and more than 7,000 users shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

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December 10 from Ubachswibrun/JWT, Amsterdam

MINI – MINI Christmas Box (2010)





2009 was the year of MINI’s “99 euro” campaign. MINI was looking for a closing offensive within this campaign for the month of December. The goal was to convey the MINI brand experience in combination with the low price. We used the familiar day-after-Christmas street scene: rubbish bags, Christmas trees, and the cardboard boxes our presents came in. A recognisable scene that MINI also makes intriguing. Because all over the city, we see a MINI Box on people’s doorsteps with a big “99 euro” price-tag. This is how we showed that MINI falls under the category of “affordable presents”.

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December 11 from Saatchi & Saatchi Romania

Toyota – Christmas Bubble (2008)

Toyota client asked the agency for a direct mailing that would convey the company environmental commitment, also when wishing their clients Merry Christmas. We decided then to produce some delicate and precious objects such as hand painted Christmas balls, and to put them in an anonymous box with the word Fragile on it.
The boxes were then delivered one by one personally to a selected list of VIP clients, journalists and Romanian opinion leaders.
When they opened the box, they found a “Christmas globe” and with it a strong but sweet message: “The world is in your hands. Treat it well. Merry Christmas from Toyota.

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December 12 from Contract Advertising, India

Cadbury India – Christmas Celebrations for the blind (2009)

The challenge was to create a package which would touch lives directly. A package that would reflect the simplicity and more importantly, the sincerity of the idea. The key objective was to take the brand and its gifting properties beyond regular consumers, to cement Cadbury’s reputation as a good corporate citizen during Christmas. Cadbury Celebrations is an assortment of fine gift chocolates. During the festive season, alongside the usual boxes of chocolates, the client wanted us to initiate a Corporate Social Responsibility activity which would in his words, ‘directly and tangibly make a difference’ to someone.
Keeping the objective of ‘corporate social responsibility’ in mind, we thought of including blind children in this festive season. Could our pack make an emotional bridge between the season of giving and the brand?
Taking off from who the gift was intend for, the idea to do a Braille pack for Cadbury Celebrations came spontaneously. How wonderful would it be for a visually-challenged boy or girl to wake up on Christmas Day and receive a Christmas gift like none other? We set about designing various options, using papers of different GSMs till we had a cost-effective, yet appealing solution which offered a unique texture.
This special package was not up for sale. However, it earned us rich dividends in terms of the joy that was spread in abundance. To see the children break out into smiles as they read the cover of the box, and then bite into the chocolates, was so heartwarming, that the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind invited Cadbury for every festival of the year. The goodwill earned, has cemented Cadbury’s reputation as a good corporate citizen, who performed its Christmas act of giving, in a quiet and unobtrusive manner. No PR articles were issued around this for example, preserving the integrity of the project.

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December 13 from Starcom/JWT Italia

Coca-Cola- Illumina la città di Milano (2009)

The 2008 campaign has a new claim “Light up Christmas with a Coca-Cola emotion”. The challenge was to revitalize and further amplify “light up” communication code with innovative activations.
The insight that sparked the idea was drawn from the fact that media at the time was focusing on urban security concerns following an apparent wave of street crime. Dark winter streets were the symbol of this feeling – and large city administrations were putting a lot of effort into bringing light to their citizens. Coca-Cola could leverage this initiative and add joy and positivity to the initiative, by lighting up an urban vehicle (a tram) in the fashion of the traditional Coke Truck – which would navigate the streets at a peak moment in pedestrian traffic.

In order to illuminate Milan, Coca-Cola has chosen an urban transport icon, the tram – also, supporting the public transport service as a mean of higher security in a traffic-intense part of the year.
Historic trams were converted into branded cable-cars of white light, spreading brilliance through the streets and serve as an iconic image for both the advertiser and the city.
The cars toured the central area of Milan, spreading its positive message with the further support of actual Santa Clauses on board, distributing branded Christmas gifts at every stop. The Coca-Cola logo was highlighted at the head of the car, associated with holiday wishes from the Municipality. Adding a signal of social responsibility, the project was also engineered using low energy technology.
The project was announced in a press conference that also featured prominent Italian political figures including a Minister and the Mayor of Milan.

Even amongst the already sparkling Christmas decorations of the city, the tram had an extremely positive impact on passers-by and passengers. Immediate reactions captured on the spot clearly show the deep success that this initiative had in enhancing the overall Christmas atmosphere.
Also, due to its public component – as it involved local authorities and the support of their efforts in improving the life and aspect of the city – the action enjoyed a wide resonance and PR support, ranging from publicly expressed commendations from political personalities and the mayor, to press coverage, to word-of-mouth through the population of Milan.

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December 14 from UM Sydney

Lego – Santa’s Little Helper (2010)

To adults, gift-buying for children at Christmas time is a daunting experience. Especially when making the right choice validates them as a good parent, grandparent, auntie or uncle. Add to this the sheer volume of toy advertising pre-Christmas and you quickly turn a daunting experience into a nightmare. Too much choice, a whole lot of pressure, and very little time. Efforts were focused on taking the stress out of choosing a gift, and in doing so positioning LEGO as the No.1 choice this Christmas. LEGO = Santa’s Little Helper, a multifaceted campaign that spoke to kids and adults.

At the campaign’s epicentre was a purpose-built local website taking the anguish out of buying toys. Simplifying things, it showed parents the LEGO range by their child’s age group. It also helped them find their nearest retailer, and print a product page to take in-store. Never before had such a LEGO service existed in Australia. To get gift buyers there, we bought a unique search term: “Santa’s Little Helper”.  We placed the term front and centre in all advertising: Santa’s Little Helper appeared in cluttered retail, outdoor, print and sampling environments in the Christmas lead-up. A refreshingly simple message, in chaotic places, at a chaotic time. Santa’s Little Helper didn’t stop there. Via product TVC’s, kids were invited online to a fun-filled destination to create LEGO e-cards showcasing their favourite LEGO toys, which they could then send to Mum and Dad, unwittingly aiding the Santa’s Helpers list.

Results: over 682,000 searches for LEGO or ‘Santa’s Little Helper’. Santa’s Little Helper generated a click-rate of 3.5%… double the toy-industry average. And better still, our overall search click-rate was 6 times the toy-industry average. Gift buyers viewed an average 14.8 pages per visit – an extremely sticky result. Santa’s Little Helper drove more product page views than any other LEGO-related term (brand terms are normally the strongest drivers). 5,263 store searches. 1,170 kids sending e-cards to their parents. 15,000 bricks in-hands through sampling. Sales were up 39% year on year.

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December 15 from JWT New York

Macy’s – Believe Mailboxes (2009)

The 2008 holiday season threatened to be the most difficult since the Great Depression. Macy’s needed an idea that would drive traffic and rekindle the holiday spirit from new and existing customers, in a time when it was in very short supply.
Despite the economic forecast, there was hope. The election brought a sense of change to America, and people were desperate for good news. This led us to the insight that to believe in something as ineffable as Santa Claus is to believe in the true spirit of Christmas. For Macy’s 2008 holiday campaign, we asked America to “Believe.” Macy’s has had a long history of epic Christmas celebrations. The brand boasts a world-famous holiday parade, iconic Christmas windows, and a well-known relationship with “the real Santa.” Even a classic American holiday film “Miracle on 34th Street” is about the fact that Santa Claus works at Macy’s. No other American department store had the permission to ask America to Believe. And few brands could pull it off at the scale at which Macy’s is used to operating.
At the core of the Believe campaign was an activation idea where we asked people to prove they believed by writing a letter to Santa Claus and mailing it at Macy’s. For every letter collected, Macy’s donated one dollar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation – a charity devoted to fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. To collect the letters, we installed Believe mailboxes in every one of Macy’s more than 800 stores nationwide. Our goal was stated from the beginning – we wanted to collect more than a million letters and donate $1 million dollars to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Believe Stations that housed the mailboxes helped Macy’s become a fun family destination for the Holidays, and not just another place to shop.
The idea inspired the nation. The Herald News from Joliet, Illinois tells of a four-year old leukemia victim named Mia, who collected over 800 letters from her classmates because she wanted to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
We exceeded our goal and collected 1,079,206 letters to Santa. On December 23, we presented the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a check for $1,000,000.

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December 16 from Crispin Porter+Bogunsky Europe, Gothemburg

Swedish Postal Service – Magical X-mas Cards (2010)

What can the Swedish Post do about young people only sharing their lives on Facebook these days? How can we prove the strength of a traditional post card? Our solution: let people create and send Christmas cards, using modern technique! Let all the hours you’ve spent sharing your life on Facebook come to use, now as a real Christmas card – containing personal design made of the texts from you and your selected recipient. Write a greeting on the flip-side, and the card is delivered to your friend’s doorstep, tempting her to send her own greeting.
By collecting status updates and comments from Facebook then making them come alive in the physical world, we created something original and unique. The target group was impressed by the personality and character of a physical Christmas greeting. Something they, in many cases, had never experienced before. This suited the brand like a glove. The Postal service wants people to feel that a physical letter is the most personal way of communicating. And you couldn’t find a more personal Christmas card than this. Each one reflecting the sender and reciever’s communication during the past year.
The strength of this campaign was two-fold, it spread itself through the actual physical cards delivered and also through social networking. The way this campaign combined the physical world with the digital was paramount in its success. To begin with, 100 cards were sent to chosen individuals in the target group. As a result, during the campaign’s short span (18 days) more than 5000 cards were made and delivered by the Postal service.
The campaign created a massive positive reaction in blogs and social media where the Postal service was portrayed as well in sync with the present. During the 18 days this campaign ran, over 5000 cards were sent as a result of 65000 unique visits. The average time spent on the site was 3:40 and the sales cost per response was 25 SEK.

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December 17 from Scholz & Friends, Berlin

Bosch – The Push-Puppet Chainsaw (2006)

Brief: create a retailer-mailing that draws attention towards the Bosch Professional Chainsaw which combines great power with outstandingly easy handling. We used a well-known toy to dramatise how powerful and easy it is to handle this professional chainsaw. Well timed for Christmas, we produced the “Bosch Push-Puppets” and sent them to the retailers. If they pressed the button at the bottom, the trees were cut down and a “conqueringly“ lumberjack stayed standing, holding a Bosch Chainsaw in his hands. A sticker at the bottom reads: “High performance. Easy to use.”  The push-puppet was sent to retailers in Germany in combination with a request-fax for a personal presentation from the Bosch sales staff. The mailing generated an unusually high response of 11.5%.

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December 18 from Famous Brussels

Belgian Lawyers Association – Santamatic (2011)

The Flemish Lawyers Association wanted to improve awareness about online agreements. Consumers don’t realise that those are real agreements as well. With real obligations. Just like any other contract you’d sign. How could we make consumers aware of that carelessness?
Consumers are not aware of the fact that online agreements are also legal agreements. With real obligations. Just like any other contract.
The Santamatic confronts us straight with our careless behavior.
After seeing the movie, you could send it to a friend including a ridiculous obligation added by yourself. And wonder if your friends would read the terms and conditions.
A week before Christmas, an online application was launched in which you could morph yourself into an 80 year old Santa. You had to upload your picture, fill in your name and agree with the ‘terms and conditions’ But instead of seeing yourself as an old Santa, something else happened.
A man confronted you with what you just signed. The picture you uploaded could be used to promote ivory.
At the end he reveals that he’s a lawyer. The few people that actually opened the terms and conditions before they started morphing, got a congratulations message from the ‘Flemish Lawyers Association’
Results: of the 24.000 visitors of the first 5 days after launch, only 6.566 opened the terms and conditions. That means that only 1 out of 4 people actually read what they’re signing up to.

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December 19 from JWT Spain

Amnesty International – Christmas Gift (2011)

Amnesty International needed funds so as to be able to continue campaigning against human rights abuse.
Our challenge: to do a Member-get-Member promotional activity encouraging current members to give an Amnesty International subscription to their loved ones for Christmas. We chose the typical gift you’re committed to at Christmas time (a pair of socks) and turned it into a gift with commitment. In conjunction with a fair trade workshop, we created some socks with designs related to injustice.
As detailed on the list of type of media referred below (and in the presentation board), there was a print campaign in the Spanish Amnesty International magazine and an email sent out to all the people listed in their database (including members and supporters), along with banners that addressed people to the micro-site of this campaign.
These socks became the welcome pack which new members would receive with their gift subscription to Amnesty. And they were the first step to Amnesty International’s Catalogue of Gifts with Commitment.
We multiplied the number of members recruited in previous Amnesty International ‘member-get-member’ campaigns by 26. And we ran out of socks.

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December 20 from Wirz/BBDO

Salvation Army – Donated Song (2011)

During their traditional street collections, the Salvation Army sings the same well-known Christmas carols every year. This means the organisation is reaching fewer and fewer people and particularly lacks appeal to younger donators.
To reach a young target audience, our strategy was to make the Salvation Army appear surprisingly younger without losing its well-known singing tradition – after all, there are plenty of other musicians who have a lot of success with their songs.
Our idea was to ask Swiss music stars whether they would be willing to donate one of their hit songs to the Salvation Army. Some of the most famous bands in Switzerland took part, allowing the Salvation Army to sing their songs for free, several of which had been number one hits in the Swiss singles charts. This eventually enabled the Salvation Army to sing songs on the street from big-name stars who have an enormous fan base among young people in Switzerland. The Salvation Army was out rocking and rapping on the streets, attracting attention and giving it a younger image.
Everyone has seen the Salvation Army singing on the street. Everyone knows the hits that were donated. But the fact that the Salvation Army – which had always had a serious but slightly boring reputation – was out on the streets just like before but this time singing hit songs, confused people – but in a positive way. And that was despite the fact that the Salvation Army was out there doing what it does every year – namely singing.
The reporting carried out by TV and radio stations, newspapers and websites achieved 65% penetration countrywide. Achieving similar results using conventional advertising would have required a media budget of Swiss franc 550,000, i.e. seven times more than our entire communications budget.
The song donations were effective not only in the mass media but also out on the street. Young people reacted positively and the Salvation Army became a topic of conversation. It also helped to halt the slide and turn things around in terms of donations, which amounted to around Swiss franc 1.5 million, despite competition from other charities.

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December 21 from TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris, Johannesburg

Drive Alive (safety message) – Xmas Tree (2007)

Ambient piece of media (a real christmas tree) placed in Johannesburg Town Centre and shopping center.

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December 22 from TOY, San Francisco

Ministero de Defencia National – Elf Yourself (2007)

Our job was to get people to associate OfficeMax with the holidays. Treating the office cubicle as our medium, we created twenty holiday-themed websites linked together under one rollover tab. ElfYourself.com became the hit of the season. At peak, it received 200 hits per second and became the 275th most visited site on the Internet according to Alexa. Featured on Good Morning America, CNN, #2 on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List, VH1’s Best Week Ever, USA Today’s Pop Candy blog and others, the site had over 40 million visitors and over 10 million elves were created in a five-week period.

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December 23 from Ogilvy Beijing, China

Greenpeace China – Coal Globe (2009)

As China is now the world’s second largest contributor to global warming, the nation plays a vital role in any global environmental decision-making conference. And as coal burning accounts for a vast majority of China’s CO2 emissions, the objective was to show delegates that Greenpeace, along with others, provides a strong voice of opposition to China continuing their business as usual ways of energy production. The main physical challenge was that since there was very little known about the venue in advance, the design would have to have impact by simply sitting on a tabletop.
Greenpeace China needed a strong message to take to the UN Poznan Climate Change Conference, as it would determine how ambitious the environmental goals of the critical Copenhagen Protocol could be.
The Conference was taking place during the middle of the Christmas season. Therefore, a typically cheery snow globe scene was turned into a poignant environmental coal-burning message by replacing snow flakes with coal dust.
“It gave us the kind of jaw-dropping impact needed to convince global delegates that China is feeling the necessary pressure in the lead up to Copenhagen,” said Greenpeace’s Communications Director, Sze Pang Cheung. And subsequently, the Copenhagen goals being discussed for carbon emission reduction have been far more ambitious than previously thought possible.

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December 24 from Swiss Publicis, Zurich

Blue Cross (alcoholism awareness) – Drunken Santa (2007)

People with alcohol problems have even greater difficulties at Christmastime. Wine and mixed drinks are available everywhere; one celebration follows the next. Some alcoholics are ashamed of their addiction and drink along so as not to call attention to themselves. Others don’t want to admit that they have a problem. Blue Cross is an organisation that helps people with drinking problems. This was to be conveyed at Christmastime with a PR-attracting promotion.
Because it’s difficult during the hectic Christmas season to generate attention for such themes, we had to conceive of something special. We sent an actor dressed up as Santa Claus into downtown Zurich. He acted drunk, staggering through the streets in his costume and trying to distribute flyers in this condition. He carried a sack with the message: “Alcoholism can affect anyone. For help call: 044/262 27 27. Blue Cross.” The entire action was filmed by a cameramen and captured by a photographer, and passed on to the TV stations and newspapers to create even more publicity.
Alcohol addition is a taboo theme. Those affected usually cannot help themselves in regard to their addiction and friends and relatives often ignore the problem. Through this seasonally relevant action we brought alcoholism and the fact that it can affect anyone into media discussion.
The goal was to bring the theme of alcoholism to a broad public. The action was a complete success; thanks to the large number of spectators, hundreds of flyers were distributed. Multiple press reports from large newspapers and magazines such as the Tages-Anzeiger, 20 Minutes, Swiss Illustrated, etc., multiplied the value of the investment. Due to the PR as multiplying factor, more than a million readers (= 0.01 CHF per contact) were reached. The client received many letters and e-mails referring to the action.

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December 25 from TBWA Germany

Sony Playstation 3 – LittleBigXmas (2009)

Christmas time is the time for Christmas cards. However, Sony Playstation didn’t just want to wish its customers and business partners a Merry Christmas, but really wanted to give them a merry time.
Based on the game “LittleBigPlanet”, a special Christmas greeting level was developed, produced and released online. All business partners were informed about this exclusive Christmas level through a mailing, and were challenged to play the game.
Therefore, a special Christmas Greeting Level was developed and built based on the Playstation gaming highlight LittleBigPlanet, and then placed online. Partners and friends of Playstation were informed about their exclusive Christmas Level by means of a mailing, and were invited to play it themselves.
Of the 3,000 persons who received the playable Christmas greeting, 910 finished it completely and awarded it with 4 of 5 stars. Amongst all the other 100,000 levels, this is a real top-rating.

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2 Comments on “Advertising Advent Calendar: 25 ideas for an unconventional Christmas”

  1. Marco says:

    Clap Clap

  2. - says:

    Awesome suggestions.


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