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Creative Christmas

Agency Christmas round-up: Cards, charity initiatives, chatbots and creative hangover cures


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

December 20, 2016 | 15 min read

Every December The Drum compiles its annual agency Christmas card round-up, and this year ad land has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the season.

Agency Christmas round-up: Cards, charity initiatives, chatbots and creative hangover cures

Agency Christmas round-up: Cards, charity initiatives, chatbots and creative hangover cures

From Isobel's famed festive artwork to charity initiatives from Jelly London and McCann and even a Santa chatbot, creatives have come up with all manner of ways to wish their clients and friends a Merry Christmas.

Scroll down to see how agencies in the UK and Europe are wrapping up 2016.

Jelly London


Jelly London approached national charity Crisis with an idea to help it raise awareness of homelessness and isolation during this festive season.

With the help of its in-house animation team, The Kitchen, and illustrator Steve Scott, the firm has produced a short animated film to promote the wonderful work that Crisis do and raise awareness of their services during the charity’s most crucial time of year.

The film features a playful and festive cocktail of frustrating, yet trivial, scenarios that many people will relate to during the holidays. It’s a light-hearted and fun animation which ultimately concludes with a more poignant message.

In addition to the film, Jelly London is sending out bespoke packs of Christmas cards, designed exclusively by five of our artists and each featuring information on how to support Crisis.



Brand storytelling agency Aesop has created a compelling Christmas initiative for the modern slavery charity – Unseen.

Working with a number of the UK’s top illustrators – Aesop has devised a unique campaign that uses paper chain strips to illustrate stories of modern slavery.

“From a distance the paper chain designs appear traditionally festive,” explained Stephen Lynch, creative director at the agency. "But on closer inspection the ‘unseen’ stories reveal themselves. We all have memories of making paper chains as kids – we felt it was the perfect analogy for focusing attention on the unseen victims of modern slavery."

The limited run packs are available to buy exclusively here with all funds raised going to Unseen.



We've seen them as monks and chavs but this year creative shop Isobel has gone above and beyond with its Christmas card; creating a tableaux from Swan Lake worthy of appearing at the Royal Opera House.

The artistic card shows the entire team kitted out in leotards and tutus, against a backdrop painted by Brazilian artist Carmel. The group spent four hours in hair and makeup to perfect the look, with the shoot taking 10 hours to complete - marketing a decade of Christmas creations for the London-based agency.

Altogether, the shoot took 10 hours to complete, it was shot by Paul Thompson and marked the 10th Christmas creation from the London-based agency.



Tired of seeing the usual schmaltz from adland at Christmas? Iris have come up with a solution - use the 'Iris Ad-O-Matic' to create your own advertising.

Users can choose what type of brand they want to be whether its booze, travel, perfume or something entirely different. They then select their media budget and how arty, cute, cheesy, happy or sad they want the creative to be before putting their own musical spin on things.

The end result is a personalised ad, with Iris pointing out that no other agency could deliver millions of Christmas ads and still have time to pop to the pub after.

Mother London

grandmother london

This Christmas, in support of Age UK, Mother London rebranded to Grandmother London and was as proud as a (well spiked) punch to unveil the 'Naughty Knitters'; a collective of skilled, if filthy minded artisans from the local knitting community.

The group was commissioned to create a series of rude masterpieces, each coming with framed, with a hand crafted, tongue-in-cheek message knitted with yarn, love, and probably sherry. The knits are available to buy online with proceeds going to Age UK.


Southpaw, has launched a unique charity Christmas Campaign to raise money for a number of charities this Christmas.

Claire Ashdown, senior marketing manager at the shop said: "Instead of sending out a standard Christmas card, we wanted to do something a little bit different to put a smile on people’s faces during the festive season, while also giving something back to some amazing charities."

As such, the firm has unveiled 'The Great Southpaw Pigs In Blankets Sprint '– which saw five each race for charities including: Tree of Hope, Hospice in the Weald, SERV Blood Bikes Kent, Imago and the Kent Wildlife Trust.

Each pig was been set up with their own JustGiving page, so people could sponsor their favourite hog and team. On 14 December the race film and winning piggy were revealed, with Southpaw donating an additional £250 to the winning team’s charity.

Proximity London


Proximity London has created an alternative Christmas card initiative dubbed #EmojiUpAGift; an ingenious present generator that will use social media, emojis and the industry to send personalised Christmas presents to the children of Evelina London, part of Guys & St Thomas’ hospital.

As part of the drive, friends of Proximity received an email asking them to tweet three emojis of their choice to @EmojiUpAGift. There, the agency’s Ho-ho- Matic transforms them into an actual gift based on their meanings. And the first 100 will be delivered to the hospital on Thursday 22 December.


This Christmas, Bulletproof has created a video showing their team of elves designing some very special lights.

The agency are then seen jumping on the tube, before taking over several of London's famed bridges to wish those cruising down the Thames a 'Happy Christmas' filled with 'Peace and Love'.

Innocean Worldwide UK

innocean www

For its annual agency Christmas card, Innocean Worldwide UK has brought Saint Nick into the 21st century and created a Santa Chatbot, affectionately known as SantaBot.

SantaBot will gauge how well-behaved you have been as well as testing your trivia of recent events. You can message him by clicking here.

​TMW Unlimited

TMW Unlimited’s annual Christmas card is a bit different this year. After last year’s John Lewis (of Hungerford’s) advert, the customer engagement agency have opted for a more comical approach to Christmas.

For 2016 it has made a short video full of snappy, three-second, memorable gifs that put a twist on traditional Christmas words and phrases. You will never see ‘Roast Turkey’ the same way again. It was created in-house by the team's motion and animation arm.



BrandOpus has kept things simple this year with a sweet and sleek Christmas card signed by its full team.

In the middle of the greeting is a biscuit carrying its Butterfly hallmark.



McCann London has partnered with International humanitarian medical charity Doctors of the World today for its 2016 Christmas cards that starkly juxtapose vintage biblical nativity scenes with modern-day photographs of conflict zones across the Middle East.

The cards, with names like 'Not So Silent Night' and 'The Star of Bedlam' were designed feature photojournalism from Press Association taken over the last year.


Anomaly London's Christmas campaign places 'The 12 Days of Christmas' in a 2016 setting.

Narrated by actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame the hilarious animation tells the story of a Londoner who has all the items from the traditional carol delivered to her one bedroom flat in London.

The film was written, animated, produced and directed in-house.

Viral Seeding


To celebrate Christmas Viral Seeding has launched a livestream of its resident puppy.

Throughout the day today its office furball Juno (part Chihuahua, part pug) will be chilling out by the Christmas tree while she waits for Santa to arrive.

The agency says that with all the shoelace biting the team isn't sure Santa will visit, but how could Chris Pringle fail to deliver treats to this little pooch?

Publicis Groupe

Publicis Groupe chairman Maurice Levy has fronted a New Year video tribute to his staff and clients for the eighth year running, taking the opportunity to poke fun at his own pending retirement in the process.

Dubbed #What’sNext the 2017 wishes piece employs the Airbnb logo and concludes by advertising Levy’s stripped office for rent – ready for the next incumbent.

Airbnb are giving away a day in the office of Maurice Lévy as part of the Airbnb 'Night At...' program.

BBD Perfect Storm


A new interactive installation in London’s Old Street is encouraging passers-by to keep the spirit of Christmas alive and focus on all the good feeling in the world.

Featuring DeFrosty, a real snowman complete with scarf and carrot nose, the display is situated in the shop window of Old Street-based agency BBD Perfect Storm.

DeFrosty is positioned in his very own freezer cabinet to prevent him from melting. The cabinet’s power is dependent on people tweeting using the hashtag #KeepDeFrostyAlive to stop DeFrosty melting away.

Each tweet provides ten minutes of power to preserve DeFrosty’s smiling features. BBD Perfect Storm will spread further goodwill by donating 10p to Evelina Children’s Hospital for every tweet.



Staff parties, agency lunches... this time of year can make for moribund mornings.

So Karmarama's 'Reinkarnation Kit' is looking to help clients come back to life with a small-batch of artisanal bloody Mary.

Instructions: Spice to your liking. Season to your satisfaction. Sip to your liver’s content.

Purple Creative

Every Christmas Purple creates a celebratory festive project and this year it happens to have a designer within the team who is one of the top five football freestylers in the UK - so they've fully utilised his incredible talent within the film!

Purple's studio Santa (AKA Michael Hindle) pushes his footie pud to the limit, featuring in the agency's Christmas campaign along with the entire team.

Purple discovered Michael's talent whilst chatting over a pint one Friday; the way all epic hidden talents come out.



After a year in which we lost so many great cultural legends, Fabula has created a handkerchief that allows us to dry our eyes on 2016 and look towards a more hopeful 2017.

The agency's 'Dead Legends' handkerchief features images and representations of people and icons that we were forced to say goodbye to this year. They include Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Victoria Wood, Ronnie Corbett and Leonard Cohen.

Wunderman UK

Wunderman UK has done something a little different this year, launching 'Give A Sock', a seasonal campaign that will provide much-needed new socks to those sleeping rough in Camden.

'Give a Sock' will run in partnership with the C4WS Homeless Project, and aims to collect sackfuls of socks from local businesses, Wunderman UK staff and clients, other WPP agencies and the sector more broadly. The largest donation will receive a prize – and it definitely won't be socks.



McGarryBowen has created a set of Brexit-themed crackers for the Guardian, aimed at putting a lighthearted, satirical spin on the Christmas tradition.

The crackers contain cheeky prizes themed around the key issues of the referendum debate including toys inside include a yo-yoing pound and a toy Brexit bus, where you can play with promises to fund the NHS.

The crackers also feature a tiny EU jigsaw, where you can piece together a map of the European Union and try and make the UK fit and there’s even a miniature book of Brexit plans, containing Britain’s entire exit strategy, though you might struggle to read it...


Inspired by the winter tradition of stories by the fire, AKQA has created an interactive story, 'The Snow Fox', which puts the magic of storytelling into the hands of children like never before via an app.

Turning voice into a reading gesture, 'The Snow Fox' invites little ones to create a unique memento of their narration in order to give to their loved ones near and far. It is available to download for iOS devices worldwide.


hungover songs

What with Trump, Brexit and a steady succession of celebrity deaths, it’s no wonder 2016’s set to have the booziest Christmas on record, and while you’re nursing the inevitable Christmas party hangover, the last thing you want to hear is the bright, brassy sound of un-infectiously enthusiastic Crimbo music.

That’s why the good folks at Goldstein have released Hymns for the Hungover: Quiet Carols for the Morning After - an album of whispered festive favourites recorded specially with the hungover in mind.


fairy ale

Worcestershire-based creative marketing and communications agency Superdream partnered with Weatheroak Brewery to produce a limited edition beer for the festive season.

Dubbed 'Fairy Ale of New York' in homage to The Pogues’ Christmas classic, the drink has been brewed as part of the agency’s festive celebrations which also sees Superdream’s office being transformed into a traditional country pub aptly named the Sup & Dream for the festive season.

Bringing a new meaning to ‘free house’, drinks and snacks won’t cost a penny. In the true spirit of Christmas, instead of paying for a pint, guests can choose to give a donation which will be split between local charitable causes including the Primrose Hospice based in Bromsgrove.

Check out the rest of The Drum's Christmas coverage here.

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