Get merry and get creative: 2019 agency Christmas card round-up

Isobel's Christmas card

Everybody celebrates the holidays a little differently, and with creative agencies, the bar is raised higher for holiday greetings. Some agencies went to great lengths this year to say Merry Christmas, dressing up as brass bands, creating their own ad generators, livestreaming trees and more.

Scroll down to enjoy this year's batch of agency holiday cards.

MullenLowe Christmas ad generator

To gently poke fun at Christmas ad clichés, MullenLowe came up with ‘The Christmas Ad generator’, a Christmas digital experience that lets people choose what kind of store they have and what kind of mood they want to create. Plug those in and the generator creates a bespoke Christmas ad story.

Isobel’s brass band

Isobel doesn’t like to blow its own horn, but the staff does like to dress up as a 1950s-era brass band to celebrate Christmas.

Each year the independent creative agency shoots a tableaux for its agency Christmas card. This year they have gone back to the post-war era to celebrate and capture the Christmas spirit of a Salvation Army brass band.

The card was created by Rob Fletcher and photographed by Paul Thompson at Boutique Artists.

The Hive’s ‘Self-Care Calendar’

Toronto agency The Hive has created the ‘The Self-Care Calendar for Festive Season Survival.’ The advent-style calendar is filled with messages of encouragement and hope, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The calendar features a different message for each day leading up to 25 December, with doors opening to reveal instructions like "Give presence over presents," "Social media, silent night" and "Deck the halls with, ugh, whatever." The tone is playful, but there is an underlying message about the importance of not allowing yourself to be overwhelmed during a stressful time.

The Self-Care Calendar is available for $20 at Toronto’s Drake General Store locations.

Holiday greetings from R/GA London

R/GA London saw that many headlines heralded AI as the death of creativity. The agency thinks the opposite, so R/GA fed AI hundreds of songs, greetings and sayings and asked it to make new ones. The staff picked the best and asked designers and artists to interpret them in their own style. The specific kind of AI is called a recurrent neural network (RNN) – it allowed them to train the program to learn over time and get better at recognizing patterns in the source data.

The copy on the inside of the card says: “This card was co-created by AI and humans. The AI came up with the words after we fed it hundreds of holiday greetings and songs to learn from. The humans came up with the illustrations so we can share our festive spirit with you. Happy Holid.ai!”

A merry digital Christmas from W+K London

Wieden+Kennedy’s London shop decided to go virtual with its holiday tree. It turned to Twitch for its digital Christmas tree, live-streaming a real, decorated tree outdoors. The agency claims the tree is “live and alive, fully interactive, streaming 24/7 from her natural habitat. Not a single needle dropped.”

Curiosity’s kid-curated holiday gift

Cincinnati agency Curiosity looked to kids to find the perfect holiday gift. right. The sons and daughters of its designers, copywriters and account managers were interviewed as to what makes the perfect gift, and whatever they said (whoopie cushions, marshmallows, toilet paper) the agency shipped it to clients.

ThoughtMatter's 'ThoughtMat'

Branding and design agency ThoughtMatter has introduced Marcel, a 'ThoughtMat' designed for people tired of a world where technology overpowers our lives rather than enhances them. Named as a tribute to Dada’s founding father Marcel Duchamp, the 'ThoughtMat' doormat was created with a wink and a nod to the usual agency holiday projects, but with a socially-aware touch.

With Marcel, ThoughtMatter wanted to create something decidedly low-tech that reframes the discussion around what it means to welcome someone; especially as the US and others engage in a red-hot immigration debate. “Welcoming” is an important idea during the holiday season, which is why each ThoughtMat comes with detailed instructions on how to welcome.

Iris plants trees

Humans tend to have a higher carbon footprint during the holiday season, and with that in mind Iris has decided to use its Christmas card as an opportunity to confront one of the key contributors to climate change – deforestation.

Instead of using real Christmas trees to decorate the office, Iris is planting them – donating the budget they’d usually allocate to creating cards straight to Trees for Cities – a London based charity committed to improving lives by planting trees and creating greener cities.

And to communicate this message Iris created ‘Timber’ – a dating platform full of the dumped trees that are cut down each year. To match with a ‘dumped’ tree, and plant a new one, all you need to do is swipe across the trees and select the one you like – in return Iris planta a tree in partnership with Trees for Cities.

Hollywood Agency channels Stranger Things

Boutique PR agency, Hollywood Agency, tackled the Netflix favorite, Stranger Things, following previous themes such as The Bachelor, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Marvel, Orange is the New Black and The Walking Dead.

To go the extra mile Hollywood added a QR code based on character Joyce’s infamous alphabet wall code in season one. Recipients of the card will have to crack the code to read a secret message.

Colle McVoy helps the WWF

Colle McVoy wished the world happy holidays by donating to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and designing a festive and wintry interactive experience using an augmented reality app.

The actual experience starts with a holiday mailer of four letter-pressed coasters that can double as tree ornaments. Each coaster features a different winter animal (arctic fox, Antarctic penguin, polar bear and narwhal). Copy on the back describes the personalities of the animals along with a few fun facts. The agency also explains how to bring the animals to life via an AR smartphone.

Kastner's desk sleepers

Kastner LA creative director Simone Nobili asked: “We work at our desks. We eat at our desks. We sleep at our desks. Shouldn’t we use them to elevate our spirits in celebration of the New Year?”

Kastner, North America's video, 'Rise Up', shows people sleeping on their desks as they start elevating to the tune of Andra Day's Rise Up. At the end, it says: "Rise above everything that held you down in 2019."

Pound & Grain's coffee card

On top of being a creative agency, Toronto and Vancouver-based Pound & Grain are an agency filled with coffee connoisseurs. Coffee fuels their hustle; so they thought the best holiday gift would be something that helps fuel their client’s hustle.

Cue Pound & Grain’s custom 404 Coffee. They worked with Elysian Coffee Roasters and the Perez family of Finca La Soledad in Guatemala, to create a chocolaty coffee that’s perfect for the holidays, and created a recipe for it as well.

Armadillo's designs for charity

CRM agency Armadillo gave four designers free reign to create a card that means something to them, and they’re also selling extra copies for Bristol charity Caring in Bristol.

Included is a linoprint pudding by Carolyn Carswell, 'What a load of baubles' by Chris Quenon, 'Santa: behind the beard' by Evelyn Tabares, and 'Late night shopping' by Ella Johnson.

Red & Co’s drunken holiday card

Red & Co’s drunken love letter is customized for each of the agency’s clients. Mira Kaddoura, founder and executive creative director, said: "This industry can be hard on us and our clients, so we thought a funny, cheerful, (pretend) drunken holiday card would make our clients laugh a little and remind them of what we’ve been able to do together."

Empower's custom candy canes

This season Cincinnatti agency Empower brings holiday cheer in the form of custom handcrafted candy canes.

Throughout the year, the agency released a series of brand identity videos (idents) to reinforce Empower as a Creative Media agency, not just a media agency. The short spots depicted yellow and blue – representing creative and media, respectively – coming together in some fashion to form Empower green. The holiday card came to life with yellow and blue-twisted candy canes representing creative and media working together to Empower brands.

Out of office graphics from Wolff Olins

The ad industry rarely gets to rest so hitting “save” on an out of office reply is the first gift you can give yourself this holiday season. This holiday season, design and branding agency Wolff Olins is here to help with a series of holiday OOO graphics that anyone can use. Others will continue to be added here.

Bindery's goodie box

Every year, NYC-based film and content studio Bindery develops a bespoke box of Bindery goods that form the basis for a holiday cocktail (or mocktail). This year's box contains all of the ingredients necessary to make a spiked hot cocoa. The team notes that it’s always an oddly rewarding challenge to figure out how to design, source and produce as many Bindery-branded items as possible; this year’s highlights include Bindery packaged cocoa, measuring spoons and marshmallows, all the way down to Bindery packing tape.

Rapp's personalized greetings

At Rapp Worldwide, the agency's guiding purpose is that 'We Stand Up for Individuality'. So, during this busy time of year, Rapp wanted to celebrate the individuals who made 2019 a special one — with a custom greeting, made especially for them. Rapp created personalized holiday videos that were shot at iconic locations in each of Rapp’s five US cities, sharing a special message from our local office talent. Rendering over 500 unique videos, the agency was able to put its clients in the spotlight, displaying their names at places like the famed Hollywood sign, big screen billboards in Times Square and more.

160over90's social card

160over90's effort is not a card but rather a social campaign, focused on Instagram.

To show the full-breadth of what 160over90 has to offer and how it is part of sports and entertainment company, Endeavor, the agency put together an Instagram channel (@OfficiallySC). Over several days, fans can follow it as the agency roll out new posts for one of its lesser-known clients who handed them the reins for a 360-brand makeover.

Brownstein Group's sustainable card

Philadelphia's Brownstein Group kept its card online and offered up a short film with ways to cut down on wrapping paper usage, including wrapping big things in sheets and wrapping this year's tacky sweater in last year's tacky sweater.

Truant's gift wrap

Rather than an agency Christmas card, Truant decided to do something more meaningful: support a local food bank by selling food and product themed Christmas wrapping paper.

The end result is gift wrap featuring broccoli, corn flakes, fish, meat, oranges, pasta, tampons and razors. The paper is available to buy via Truant’s online shop. Costing £2.50 per sheet, all proceeds will go towards buying food and products for Truant’s local Hackney Foodbank.

The paper was designed by Truant creatives Charlie Lindsay and George Bartlett.

Current Global's culturally sensitive holiday greeting

Current Global made and recorded a 'culturally inclusive legally-approved holiday carol', acknowledging its growing global footprint with 30 offices across the globe including in the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, China.

The song featuring Current Global employees will be shared electronically to wish a Universal Happy Holidays to all its clients, business partners and industry friends while a limited release CD will be issued to a select few.

2050.cards' WhatsApp fundraiser

2050.cards, which created ‘mobile-first’ cards delivered phone-to-phone via WhatsApp, has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to launch a first-of-its-kind digital Christmas card, with 100% of proceeds going to the BHF.

Each bespoke digital card is sent directly from phone to phone via WhatsApp, MMS or Messenger so that no email, links, ads or landing pages are required.

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