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Here’s why Great State wrapped up 2020 with scarves rather than Christmas cards

Great State won the ‘Best In-House/Self Promotion’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveals the secrets of this successful project…

The challenge

It’s fair to say that 2020 was a funny old year. Not shake-your-belly-like-a-bowl-full-of-jelly funny. Not even cracker joke funny. Just funny. And by the time Christmas came round, we were probably all ready for a hug. Nine months of homeschooling, working from the cupboard under the stairs and not actually being able to hug anyone will do that to you.

So, when the annual ‘design the agency Christmas card’ brief hit our desks, we challenged ourselves to find the positives and spread a little joy, using skills from across the agency.

The strategy

We’re a very sociable bunch at Great State, so lockdown really hit us hard. The face-to-face contact with clients was missing, so we knew we needed to do something that would really reflect our agency ethos. We’d done some incredible work in 2020, but the year was still shrouded in negativity. What we had to do was end the year on a high.

When we did some digging, we discovered that 2020 wasn’t actually all bad. The world had changed, in some ways for the better. So we decided to celebrate the year, showcasing our creativity and forming a closer bond with our clients in the process. And we’d do it by combining two of our passions: data and knitwear.

The execution

To highlight some of the positive changes to come out of 2020, we created four bold and simple charts using real data, then made them into scarves. No, we hadn’t been at the mulled wine a bit early. It was the perfect way to wrap people in a little good cheer.

The scarves illustrated statistics from the year. Each one was carefully selected to match the interests of our audience and reflect the values we hold at Great State. They were:

  • One-in-five adults in the UK volunteered their time in the name of helping others. Christmas spirit came early. It made millions of us collect medicines, deliver food and make calls. More than deserves a bar chart, right?

  • During 2020, UK bike sales doubled. Our bike rack is always full at Great State. And it seems we’re not the only ones. As a nation, we are saddling up more and more, from two-wheeled commutes to weekend rides. And with the Government investing in infrastructure, it’s a shift that could be here to stay – and we couldn’t be happier about it.

  • The increase in pet adoption in the last year. If you’ve ever been to our offices, you’ll know how much we’ve embraced the psychological benefits of having pets around the place. The whole country has too, with thousands of previously unwanted furry friends finding a place at the Christmas hearth.

  • A 40% decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels. Crisp winter mornings had never been so fresh, so we did our bit to encourage people to breathe in the good stuff.

Traditionally the lead up to Christmas is when our studio is at its busiest. We also wanted to make sure we captured the latest data. Ultimately, we only had a couple of weeks to turn the entire project around, begging, borrowing and stealing resource wherever we could. This covered everything from finding a scarf supplier, selecting our data points, designing the scarves and associated material, creating and running teaser material across social media and email, to delivering a campaign video (which included footage of the scarves upon delivery) and allowing for packing and postage.

There were certainly some hairy moments (how Saint Nick does it all in one night, we’ll never know). But, after a few late nights fuelled by mince pies and Bailey’s, we managed to get our data-driven knitwear out to our lovely clients in time for Christmas morning.

Teasers, CRM and stories on social gave the campaign the impact it deserved, with engagement showing just how much we all needed a lift at the end of a truly testing 12 months.

The results

Our objective was to bring a little positivity to people after a tough old year and we managed that in abundance, raising our profile and getting closer to our clients in the process.

Our cold, hard data had been transformed into something that could warm your heart. And with the project picking up Campaign Live’s Best Agency Christmas Card award, clearly others thought so too. We were flooded with on-street sightings and selfies, with rave reviews coming in thick and fast.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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