It's the most wonderful time of the year, when agency people push all the client work to the side and try to make a cool, funny, sweet or poignant holiday card.
How did they do? Check out some of the offerings below. And yes, we know we probably forgot your agency's card. So, e-mail it to us and we'll try to update this story a few times before Christmas.
Here is our final list of 73 cards, alphabetical by agency:
22squared – @TheFeedThatFeeds
22squared created the Instagram account @TheFeedThatFeeds, which is a literal feed of food photography, featuring dishes from top chefs and bakers in the Atlanta and Tampa areas, where 22squared has offices. For every like, individuals will be fed by the restaurant tagged in the photo, and the food will be delivered by 22squared employees to a partner food bank or nonprofit organization. The initiative will run through Dec. 31.
88 Brand Partners – Regifting 2016
Rather than send clients a card or gift, each team member at 88BP was given $500 to use his or her own unique gifts to in some way do good in the world. Check out this microsite to see the regifting stories of how the 88 team tried to make the world a slightly better place.
ab+c Creative Intelligence – Holiday Card by Committee
ab+c created a website where people can view the holiday card, then suggest changes by tweeting @abc_creative with the hashtag #ABCHolidayCard. People can then view the card online, in real time, and watch as someone goes to the computer to make your changes live.
ABC Creative Group – Santa Rebrand
Kris, CEO of the world's largest toy manufacturer, came looking for a new image for his company that would engage more millennials. Once ABC got rolling on the rebranding campaign, things got real …
Affirm Agency – Holiday Mannequin Challenge
"We decided to jump on the #mannequinchallenge bandwagon, but with a holiday agency party twist," the agency says. Great job on this from the Wisconsin agency.
AKQA – The Snow Fox
AKQA created a children's story that comes to life by voice. The Snow Fox is a wintry tale of a young child who adventures through the forest with a newfound furry friend in search of his/her mother. As the child reads, the story animates. When a sentence is finished, the story automatically transitions to the next scene. Word by word the story comes to life, bringing an element of magic to bedtime bonding moments between parent and child.
Alex Goddard, Asa Bradshaw and David Felton – Merry Critmas
This grassroots campaign urges senior creatives to give back this holiday by critiquing a young creative's portfolio for free at merrycritmas.com. "People are a little kinder in December" says Goddard. Bradshaw and Felton add: "For undiscovered talent trying to break into advertising, it's the perfect gift. And for established creatives it's an easy way of giving something back. Just half an hour of their time can make a real difference. And you never know who might walk through the door." U.K. agencies Magnafi and Trunk helped bring the campaign to life.
Anomaly – The 12 Days of Christmas – A Tale of Avian Misery
Phoebe Waller-Bridge narrates this bleakly amusing holiday film from Anomaly London, which imagines the nightmarish scenario of a man who takes "The 12 Days of Christmas" literally—and buys all that crap for his girlfriend.
Arnold Worldwide – Virtual Santa
Arnold created a virtual Santa at a storefront in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall. Passersby get into spirited SMS conversations with the screen-based Father Christmas, powered by Havas Cognitive partner IBM Watson and Arnold's own proprietary AI. Santa then programmatically determines whether visitors are naughty or nice and sends his Arnold Elves to gift them accordingly.
Authentic – Find Authentic on the Amazon Echo Dot
This holiday, Authentic is giving its clients the new Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo Dot. But these Amazon Echo Dots are special—they come with a custom-built skill (which Authentic's in-house team built) that serves up a digital marketing tip of the day‚ like a little strategist in a box.
BBDO Toronto – Not-So-Mini Liquor-Filled Chocolate
"Sometimes mini chocolate liqueurs just aren't enough," says BBDO Toronto. So the agency "dipped an entire 750mL bottle of Appleton Estate rum in chocolate to wish their clients a REALLY happy holiday."
Bernstein-Rein – Year of Madness Bracket Challenge
Pick the craziest moment of 2016 through a March Madness-style bracket. The agency will make a donation to the charity whose efforts are an antidote to the craziness occurring in the winning moment.
Boys and Girls – Have a Sweet Christmas
This Dublin independent creative agency is based in an old grade-school building. They moved in last year following extensive renovations by Marc Kilkenny Architecture. "We're pretty proud of our offices, which are designed to foster creativity with open plan working space, a Ping Pong room and a slide. We asked The Natural Bakery to build our office out of gingerbread and the result is pretty sweet—pun intended!" the agency says.
Brand Union – The Year in Color
Brand Union used an algorithm that taps into Google's API to highlight the dominant color of the leading story for every day in 2016—giving a recap of the year in color.
Britton Marketing & Design Group – The ABCs of Advertising
Dr. Seuss' ABC's book, reimagined as the ABC's of Advertising.
Brunner – Santa's Self-Driving Sleigh
For a holiday greeting card suitable for Pittsburgh's tech economy, Brunner produced a three-page article in the holiday issue of fictional magazine Techy. Titled "Inside Santa's Self-Driving Sleigh," it features an interview with the lead engineer elf behind the new, reindeer-less sleigh. The article was produced as traditional three-page print article and is online at techy.brunnerworks.com.
Bruton Stroube – A Bruton Stroube Holiday Love Story
Here's a really fun one: Two producers at this St. Louis studio just got married last weekend. The agency tells their story in the video below, which is sweet, fun, amusing and full of Christmas cheer.
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners – Holiday Boutique
BSSP was moved by the tragedy of the Oakland warehouse fire and is contributing to the Fire Fund for Victims of the Ghost Ship Fire. In the spirit of the holiday, the agency created a way for friends and family to also give to this important cause with Holiday Boutique. In recognition of the needs of the artists and the artist community most impacted by the fire, BSSP turned to its own in-house "crafters" to create one-of-a-kind gifts with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Fire Relief Fund. See the shop here.
Cadient Group – Crafting Merry Experiences
Here's another holiday Mannequin Challenge, which is a popular theme this year.
Carrot Creative – Roasted Nuts
This agency made some "testy holiday cards" they're calling "Roasted Nuts" (get it?). "After 2016, we are a nation divided," Carrot says. "So we found some of our favorite topical tweets, and turned them into cards that hopefully bring us all together again these holidays."
Cohn & Wolfe – A 48-Year-Old Picture Puts 2016 in Perspective
Cohn & Wolfe says: "We believe that whether developing a global communications program or volunteering in your own community, there's only one way to accomplish great things: together."
Colle+McVoy – Holiday Wrapping Paper
Colle+McVoy sent out a set of festive wrapping paper inspired by holiday travel destinations. Recipients can wrap their gifts in coast-to-coast holiday cheer—the Big City, Aloha Paradise, the Southwest and Up North.
Connelly Partners – #CanItGiftWrap
Connelly Partners was inspired by the frustration of wrapping presents (especially oddly shaped items) and asked agency employees: #CanItGiftWrap? Each day throughout the holiday, a Connelly Partners employee is filmed trying to wrap gifts like Thanksgiving leftovers, a balloon, a dinosaur and a toy car.
CooperKatz – Twas the Morn' of the Gift Swap
Find out how CooperKatz got ready for its annual gift swap.
CP+B – Happy Qualidays
To create the perfect holiday card, CP+B tested multiple holiday card designs to see what would appeal to each and every client. The agency held live focus groups and conducted an online survey, providing both qualitative and quantitative feedback. The resulting card (see the GIF below) directs clients to happyqualidays.com, where they can see the findings, including a highlight video from the focus groups.
Click through to see more agency holiday cards:
Crisp – The Boy Who Broke Santa's Lap
In 1995, a boy broke Santa. This is his story.
DDB New York – Cookie Enabler
DDB New York is giving the term "enable cookies" a new meaning by designing and building the Cookie Enabler. Users who visit cookieenabler.com are asked to click yes or no to the prompt "Enable cookies?" Those who click yes are qualified to receive a box of prepackaged cookies from Brooklyn cookie shop The Good Batch.
"The Cookie Enabler was originally intended to be sent to DDB New York's clients only, but the agency decided to share the love, so anyone can 'enable cookies' and get a box of holiday sweets sent to them, thanks to their friends at DDB New York," the agency tells us.
Designory – Unleash the (Designory) Holidays!
From the agency: "We decided to spread a little four-legged joy to the world with a holiday video starring our office dogs and a few of their friends. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it."
DigitasLBi – Happy Non-Fake News Year
Can you tell which stories from 2016 were real and which were fake? For each person who plays this online game, DigitasLBi will make a donation (up to $5,000 total) to Girls Write Now, a nationally recognized organization that trains the next generation of powerful women in media and journalism.
DiMassimo Goldstein – Bipartisan Holiday Cards
"In the spirit of togetherness, Bipartisan Holiday Cards offer a fun way to say that yes, we still wish you peace and happiness, despite our disagreements," the agency says. "The bonds of true friendships, after all, should trump our political differences (pun intended.)"
DNA Studios PDX – A Tale of Tangible Greetings
DNA Studios PDX released a video telling a tale of collaboration and craftsmanship in the making of its client holiday card. The video features presswoman Chelsey Nichols creating handmade letterpress cards on a 100-year-old machine while snow falls outside.
"We didn't want to send the typical holiday card, so we did what we know how to do, and that's find a creative and authentic way to tell the story," says creative director David Norman.
Drumroll – Santa Feed
Drumroll created a custom, interactive live video feed "showcasing Santa living his best life—reading the newspaper, playing with a VR headset, hula hooping and taking selfies. Viewers can interrupt Santa's good time by sending him cookies that'll give him extra energy for his Christmas Eve sleigh ride." Cookies and milk appear in the video feed in real time, and when Santa looks at the cookies it will cut to an overhead shot, showing a personalized note from you.
Edgar Allen – Murray & Bright
A drag-and-drop game where you match Bill Murray with the movies he's been in. Featuring illustrations by Lindsay Ryden.
Field Day Inc. – 3-D Tiny Tales
This Toronto agency created a 3-D Viewmaster slide show, condensing Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol down to just seven frames populated by Lego characters. "The plot is by Dickens. The rest—the staging, script, 3-D photography, packaging, etc.—is by the Field Day team," the agency tells us.
There's also a Facebook page where you can click through the photos to read the accompanying text for each slide.
Firstborn – Nick the Game
This digital agency created a remarkable Santa-themed room-scale VR video game. The agency explains: "Santa's on the run, and only you can save him. Step into his boots to become Nick—the hard-boiled badass Claus bent on survival. Battle killer robot elves in this VR tower defense survival game, and try to hold out against the evil hordes to save what's left of Christmas."
Gas Powered Shark – Wishing You an Inspirational Holiday Season
Thing agency offers a cheerful, off-kilter take on inspirational quotes.
GS&F – Merry & Christmas
With its 2016 holiday card, this agency says it "took technology further than ever before, pushing past virtual reality and into the revolutionary space of real reality. We made a card. Out of paper. And ink." Find out how below.
Hanson Dodge Creative – The Reign Deer
Hanson Dodge created a limited-run trading card set that reimagines Santa's reindeer as a biker gang. The cards include key stats, like the gang's bar-fight-win-percentage (BFW), weapon of choice, favorite drink and even stitches-over-lifetime. "From Blitz's 612 tattoos to Cupid's favorite drink (and weapon) being scalding hot chocolate, these aren't the reindeer you sang about as a kid. Let's just say the days of laughing at Rudolph and calling him names are over," the agency says.
Happy Medium – Happy Medium's Favorite Things
The agency's take on its own "Favorite Things" this season.
Havas – Hope Your Holiday Rocks
Havas' unique gift is a customized Spotify playlist based on your own personality. The card uses IBM Watson technology to create a personality profile from your Facebook data, and combines that with Spotify APIs to deliver a custom, personalized playlist.
HUSH – TopoTopo
HUSH wanted to send clients a lighthearted puzzle-game gift, but wanted it to feel personal and have a emotional connection to HUSH's employees and design culture. They also wanted to show off their expertise in tech, design, beautiful materials, UX, engagement and interactivity, product manufacturing and interest in data design and 3D printing.
The result is TopoTopo—a web-based tool that allows users to enter any location on Earth and create a 3-D topographical model of that place which can be shared via social, turned into a puzzle, 3-D printed and sent to the user via the hub.
For clients, friends and family, HUSH will custom-create puzzles based on locations near and dear to them, pairing them with heartfelt, often poetic written memories of their connection to those locations.
Interbrand – #IBforEquality
Each year Interbrand challenges its offices across all seven continents to design a creative holiday campaign around a resonant theme. Last year's was peace, in the wake of the attacks on Paris. This year's theme is equality.
"Equality carries so much meaning both stateside and abroad, as human rights continue to face tribulation," the agency says. "We support all interpretations of equality, because demonstrating diversity and embracing our creativity is a celebration of what makes us human."
See what the various Interbrand offices came up with at this link.
iris – Holiday Ad Generator
Iris made a Holiday Ad Generator. The agency explains: "There are few things more agonized over in marketing departments than the annual crop of festive TV commercials. So this year we thought we'd save everybody the time, effort and angst of making their own and allow our mischievous elves of the internet do that automatically for you!"
JGA Marketing – Reindeer T-Shirts
JGA Marketing sent friends and clients a pizza box from the agency's "fast delivery idea kitchen." Inside was one of six T-shirts with animals dressed up as Santa's reindeer, with captions like "Seize the Moment," "Attitude," "Confidence" and "Resist the Obvious." "We wanted a card that was useful, fun, and stimulated people to be bolder and optimistic," the agency says. "Plus we're in Florida, so sweaters are not our thing."
Laughlin Constable – Holiday Spirit Animal
Take a little quiz, and find out your Holiday Spirit Animal. The agency explains: "From your takeoff (waking up) to your landing (hitting the bed), you exude bravery, loyalty, and long, gracious leaps through life. At least that's what we at Laughlin Constable think. Find out if you're actually a Whooping Creindeer in the best version of a holiday card: a spirit animal quiz."
Lindsay, Stone & Briggs – Ad Vent
Lindsay, Stone & Briggs made a very Grinch-like advent calendar—the Ad Vent calendar. "There's so much negativity in the world these days. So we decided to do our part by, you know, shoveling some scoops onto that pile," the agency says. "Every day from now to December 25, we're going to vent about something in advertising that we loathe. Crappy green-screens. Clickbait. Stock photos. Uninformative infographics. Us. The list goes on. And on. And on. And on. Happy Holidays!"
Merkley + Partners – Merkley Holiday Break
Cameras trained on the Merkley office space seem to have captured sudden moments of festive cheer this holiday season."
MKG – Holiday Spirit
Last Friday, Dec. 16, anyone who tweeted @thisisMKG using the hashtag #MKGHolidaySpirit summoned the "Holiday Spirit" to their office—where the Spirit whipped up a tasty cocktail.
Mosaic – Season's Meetings
This experiential marketing agency created a holiday card where they booked video meetings with their clients, ostensibly to talk about work, but then surprised them by singing carols instead.
MullenLowe Group – MLGshakermaker
The MLGshakermaker allows people to create and customize their own virtual snow globe (shaker) scene and send it to friends and family as an e-card with a personalized message.
Northlich – Holiday Sweater Challenge
Everyone loves a holiday sweater, so why wouldn't more be merrier?
Click through to see more agency holiday cards:
Overit – Holiday Card Video
This creative digital marketing agency explores the push and pull between the CEO and the creative director over billable hours versus artistic expression.
Patrick Scullin – Make Christmas Great Again
While this was not an official agency card, Ames Scullin O'Haire principal Patrick Scullin sent this personal card to clients, friends and family—"a simple analog concept that I hope will be remembered for spreading good cheer," he says.
Plan B – Santa's Post-Ride Press Conference
Dogged by rumors and fake news reports, Santa has a meltdown at his post-ride press conference. Check out the highlights below, exclusively on the ELF Network.
Planet Propaganda – BlitzenSchticks
Planet Propaganda reached out to Underground Meats, owners of a butcher shop down the street, to create BlitzenSchticks—limited edition, merrily seasoned Polish pork sticks. They're 100 percent reindeer free. Proceeds from every package of the holiday BlitzenSchticks sold benefit Luke House community meal program.
Publicis Groupe – 2017 Wishes
As part of his final year-end address to the network, CEO Maurice Lévy is giving lucky winner will get the chance to spend 24 hours in his Champs Élysées office through Airbnb.
R&R Partners – Bad Gifts for Good
Destroy bad holiday gifts for the good of all mankind. For every terrible and thoughtless gift you destroy on the website, the R&R Partners Foundation will make a donation to charity (Communities In Schools) up to $7,500.
redpepper – Premier Holiday Solutions
This agency created a (fake) "lovably malfunctioning tech company" called Premier Holiday Solutions that's releasing "a 2016 holiday lineup of shitty robots built to make people's holidays 'easier.' "
Redsuit Advertising – Rudolph: A Case Study
Rudolph needs a rebranding, and the Redsuit folks are here to help.
Resource/Ammirati – Your Identi-tee
IBM acquired Resource/Ammirati last January, and the agency makes good use of IBM's Watson in this holiday campaign. Watson analyzes your Facebook or Twitter account and then makes a custom T-shirt design that is the sum of all your amazing traits.
Rethink – GingerPong
Check out the world's first gingerbread Ping Pong table!
School of Thought – Project Fruitcake
Check out real reactions as a nonfictional focus group weighs in on three rebranding campaigns for fruitcake. The video link is being sent to clients and friends on gift packages that read, "We wanted to send you a fruitcake but our focus group told us not to." The gifts inside are a "deconstructed" fruitcake, with three boxes containing apricot hearts, cocoa almonds, and citrus and berry fruttini.
Sid Lee – A Lump of Activated Charcoal
Sid Lee developed a holiday package of activated charcoal to help friends, vendors and clients through the holiday season. "These handcrafted, geometric lumps of coal hold in them a glass bottle of activated charcoal powder," the agency says. "Known for its detoxifying properties, that mixes easily into any favorite morning drink."
The agency also wrote this poem:
The holidays are a time for family and friends—
When parties don't stop and the food never ends.
And for those who have been naughty with all that drinking—
Santa Lee has been watching and that got him thinking.
Your behavior doesn't warrant a gift from the North Pole—
But far more deserving of this lump of activated charcoal.
So eat, drink, and be merry, you won't fall off track—
If your resolution is to be healthy, we've got your back.
SS+K – Happy Holiday Adventure
SS+K is breaking free of the traditional flat holiday card stack by offering 360° virtual reality bobsled rides. The virtual world consists of 3-D polygonal assets that make up a colorful winter wonderland. With the cardboard glasses, users can engage a slow-motion effect at any point throughout the experience to get a better look at the playful world around them. At any point throughout the run, snow will fall if the user shakes their head. There's also a 360-degree YouTube video of the experience.
Story Worldwide – The Very Important 'Meeting'
Story Worldwide is hosting a four-hour Facebook Live video this Thursday, Dec. 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. that you can add to your calendar—blocking off that time and preventing anyone else from booking a last minute meeting right before the holidays.
Team One – Happy Technolidays
This agency had artificial intelligence write a holiday carol.
"We used TensorFlow to create an LSTM (Long Short Term Memory) Neural Network that reads all of the lyrics of 200 years' worth of holiday carols," the agency says. "The network learned the style of how the different carols where written—the context of words, rhymes, line/stanza breaks, etc."
See below for more on how Team One merged the technology of the future with the musical style of the 1800s to create a new kind of carol.
teamDigital – Chet the Elf
You know Buddy the Elf. Well, now meet Chet the Elf—a jolly, gift-giving expert who uses Twitter to help people find Elftastic gift ideas. Chet gets his Elfing power from a custom platform that analyzes tweets to automatically provide an unexpected gift idea.
twofifteenmccann – The Living Holiday Card
Below is a time-lapse video version of twofifteenmccann's livestreamed holiday card—a fun rooftop shout out to its San Francisco neighbors and clients.
Viral Seeding – Puppy Live Stream
Viral Seeding is running a Christmas puppy livestream, featuring Juno the chug.
Vladimir Jones – Agency Go
In Vladimir Jones' Pokemon Go parody, you can catch members from every department and create your own virtual ad agency. "It was one of the more exciting things to come out of 2016," said Matt Ingwalson, executive creative director at Vladimir Jones. "So we decided to spread some holiday cheer by gamifying agency stereotypes."
Walrus – Yes, It's Another Shirt From Walrus
Walrus sends out something people will actually use—a T-shirt. This year's design features a walrus emoticon, which was inspired by the emoticon in co-founder and chief creative officer Deacon Webster's email signature. See the shirt, and the accompanying note, below.
White64 – White64 Motors
In a parody of self-driving vehicles, the agency is announcing that it is opening a new division dubbed White64 Motors. Its first client is none other than Santa Claus, for whom the new division has developed a self-driving sleigh. On the website, users also can customize their own driverless sleigh. As the White64 Motors website explains, "We didn't reinvent the wheel. We got rid of it. The JNGL64 autonomous flying sleigh is miles above the competition. When technology finally catches up to imagination, innovation is created."
Wunderman – Deck the Halls
Wunderman New York deconstructed the holiday card making process and created an entire deck about it, which it sent to clients. Sami Thessman, the agency's chief creative officer, explains the process in this video.
Young & Rubicam – Make Peace With 2016
Young & Rubicam's Make Peace With 2016 is designed to help families, friends, and colleagues end the year on a positive note. The agency is inviting people to select someone they disagreed with this year and make a donation to Unicef on that person's behalf to help start the new year a little better. Donors can write a message or select from pre-written messages such as "I see your 'likes.' I don't like them. But I like you." or "It's OK, everyone makes mistakes, even 2016" to share with the recipient. The donations will support two causes: girls' education and education for refugee children.
Zimmerman Advertising – Santa Rebrand
The agency explains: "Mr. Claus has been relying on the same business model for as long as anyone can remember. In order to reconnect with his audience and stay relevant, he desperately needed an operations overhaul, a brand revamp, and a media makeover to start. Using the unmatched analytics, marketing, and creative power of The Machine, we helped equip Santa to better meet consumer expectations in the 21st century and beyond!"