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Tampon tinsel, Supreme knockoffs & ASMR: the best agency Christmas cards from around the globe

Agencies have been a charitable bunch this year, with most donating any cash they make from Christmas card offerings straight to charity. That doesn't mean their festival creations are boring: with bespoke hold music, fir tree massacres and tree decorations made from tampons, 2018's postbag is arguably the most creative – and irreverent – that it's ever been.

Isobel: Christmas Card

London indie Isobel is now practically famous for its high production Christmas card portraits, which last year landed its managing partner in hospital after a Peter Pan flight stunt went very wrong. The team stuck to solid ground this year with a subversive, gender-bending take on the Vanity Fair Hollywood cover.

215 McCann: Hold Music Holiday Card

McCann’s San Francisco outfit 215 took advantage the festive lull to solve one of working life’s irritating problems – conference call hold music. The shop sent emails inviting brands and partners to a “special end-of-year Skype meeting”; when they dialled in, each client was played a bespoke song thanking them for their business.

The question of whether “experimental synth new wave pop holding music” is less annoying than regular muzak, however, is still up for debate.

Stein IAS: Children's Christmas Book Helps Support Homeless Families

With record homelessness in New York City, including over 23,000 children in city shelters, marketing agency Stein IAS today unveiled a new children’s book and animation, ‘Somewhere to Believe In,' with all proceeds going directly to Win.

The book, written and illustrated by Stein IAS, aims to highlight the importance of empowering and supporting homeless children. Donations will help Win, the largest provider of family shelter in New York City, fund daycare, after school classes, field trips, and college preparation for homeless children.

In the story, Santa searches for a little girl who wrote him a letter, and along the way realizes there are many children who don’t have homes. In the end, the reader is the hero, because by making a donation and reading the book, they have supported a charity that is helping homeless women and their children rebuild their lives and believe in a better future.

Droga5 London: The Technically But Not Legally Supreme Christmas Card Collection

Droga5 tried hard to live up to its reputation as one of the cooler shops in town by partnering with the hyped up Supreme for a set of Christmas cards. Well, not really – its creatives mocked up the skate brand's logo on white paper using a Supreme pen, making its offerings ‘technically but not legally Supreme’ branded.

The set is available to purchase online, and all proceeds will go to homeless charity Shelter. The store launched just days after Samsung lost face by partnering with a Supreme rip-off, which we guess makes Droga5’s crimbo satire pretty damn cool after all.

Bensimon Byrne: Award Show Bling Auction

Toronto’s Bensimon Byrne and its Narrative and OneMethod divisions are doing the unthinkable this Christmas – auctioning off their awards. The company has racked up 75 trophies, including a D&AD Pencil and One Show Gold, for its work on HIV/AIDS hospital Casey House, and decided to boost its funds even further by flogging off the silverware via Instagram.

A sample caption from the sale? “Hell yeah we spent a crapload of money on this gold Clio. But now we’re making things right.”

Good Agency: The Good Paper Project

The Good Agency lived up to its ethos of doing good by doing a really good thing. For the last six months the London shop saved its scrap paper from printed emails, discarded scamps and bad ideas and turned it into physical Christmas cards through a process of blending, straining, drying, printing and soaking.

Speaking of soaking...

Wunderman: Merry Bloody Christmas

Wunderman’s UK office celebrated its last year sans ‘Thompson’ with a bloody good idea – a range of tree decorations made from tampons. The ultra absorbent accessories were sent out to clients, influencers and press, and anytime the gift was shared on social media with @WundermanUK tagged the agency pledged a box of period products to charity Bloody Good Period.

“Courage – that’s what this year’s Christmas brief is all about,” said Pip Hulbert, Wunderman’s chief executive.

Havas London: Festify Jumper Kit

Havas creatives Philip Le Brun and Adeline Dechaud teamed up with homeless charity Crack & Cider to create a vinyl sticker pack of quirky designs that can be used to turn any sweater into a novelty Christmas jumper. Why? After Christmas Jumper Day, it’s estimated that 400,000 are thrown in the bin after just one wear.

The Festify pack is available to purchase on Etsy or dedicated microsite festifymyjumper.com. All profits are being donated to Crack + Cider, which was launched by advertising duo Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro.

Anomaly: O’Human Being

Yet again, Anomaly wins the prize for Best Use Of A Celebrity (last year it bagged Sir Patrick Stewart) with everyone’s favourite Spiceworld actor Richard E Grant. The thespian-turned-perfumer narrates the dark film 'O'Human Being,' telling the tale of a world where man is victim to a massacre perpetuated by...fir trees.

Highfield: The Canal Street Mystery Box

Creative agency Highfield poked gentle fun at its tacky, strange and sometimes seedy New York neighbourhood with the creation of a mystery box filled with a random assortment of Canal Street loot. The shop promises ‘outdated fidget spinners, I Love NY T-shirts, curiously inexpensive watches, overpriced squishy toys and a “top of the line” Jesus piece’.

Shoppers can purchase boxes priced at $25, $50 or $100. All proceeds go to charity Womankind – but you never know what you’re going to get.

Iris Amsterdam: Z Christmas Cards

Iris Amsterdam activated one of the funnest Christmas agency stunts of 2017 – a real-life, surrealist ‘Santa’s Photoshop’. But this year it pared down that Dutch wackiness for a purpose-led campaign helping the homeless help themselves.

It partnered with Amsterdam organisation Z, a street paper that employs displaced people as vendors. The agency created a pack of five Christmas cards for the sellers to peddle on top of their usual publication.

Meanwhile, in London...

Iris London: ASMR Christmas Podcast

The network’s London branch has taken up the irreverent mantle from its Amsterdam cousins and created a podcast full of soothing Christmas sounds, capitalising on the trend for autonomous sensory meridian response audio clips.

Expect the comforting sounds of wrapping paper crunching and brussels sprouts washing, alongside a few comic surprises.

Kastner: Dear Adland

Kastner dropped the ‘& Partners’ from its name earlier this month. So, proving that Angelenos can in fact be generous, Red Bull’s agency of record went around town covertly gifting fellow agencies its ampersand as a Christmas present.

The undercover operation was filmed in black and white and released as ‘Dear Adland’.

Zak: Nomophobia

While Kastner was handing out ampersands, Zak has been giving out the gift of disconnection this holiday season.

The independent agency launched an 80s-inspired, mad scientist-led campaign to help 16-to 24-year-olds land safely off the dopamine rollercoaster of social media as they’re forced to put their phones away at the holiday dinner table.

Fold 7: Christmas Detox Sox

Fold7 has also hopped on the no-phone bandwagon. It released a line of ‘digital detox sox’ where you can store your smartphones for the holidays.

The socks are knitted by Fold7’s team of grannies – another group of septuagenarians making you feel guilty about your life choices.

The Beyond Collective: Beyond Hot

While one agency has a team of grannies, another has a chilli club. At least the Beyond Collective shot its holiday spot vertically so you have an excuse to keep your phone out.

The agency created its own hot sauce brand, Beyond Hot, in partnership with Kent Chilli Farm. Employees are crying tears of delicious pain after they powered through some Ho Ho Hot Sauce, a Christmas cranberry blend with extra hot chocolate habaneros to bring the heat to the dinner table.

Lida: Uncelebrated Greatness

Lida took a break from the norm too, but at least the customer agency stayed true to this article’s headline and released actual Christmas cards.

The cards spotlight ‘uncelebrated greatness’ of less notable Christmas Day milestones, from historical happenings such as the crowning of William the Conqueror (1066) to local feats like Dirty Den divorcing Angie Watts in EastEnders (1986).

Additional reporting by Andrew Blustein

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