Ad-agency holiday cards are a proud tradition. Nowadays, they usually come in the form of a holiday Web site. Some make you go "Ho ho ho." Others have you grumbling "Humbug!" After the jump, check out our picks for this year's best and worst, as selected by Saatchi & Saatchi's James Cooper and Adweek's Brian Morrissey.
2009's BEST AGENCY HOLIDAY CARDS
Selected by James Cooper, interactive cd at Saatchi New York.
The London shop made an iPhone app that allows you to set your home address and have that represented by a shining star, which can lead you home. Two things I like about this. First, getting it through the apple approval process in time for the holiday season shows a presence of mind rarely seen in our kick, bollock, scramble world. The other is that as anyone who has ever lived and worked in London knows, getting home after a few drinks is as much a miracle as the birth of Jesus Christ himself. It is, as we are wont to say these days, a "branded utility"—although I think you would be hard pressed to find a better example of branded utility than the USB-heated coffee mugs we all got at Saatchi!
Agencies sometimes go really over the top with elaborate holiday sites that require people to actually give a crap. (Droga Sydney?) I think it's fair to assume people just want a quick hit of fun at the end of the year. This site "Holidizes" your own site in the same way that Kanye hijacked many people's sites during KanyeGate. Simple, fun—your mom would do it if she weren't busy figuring out how to follow your ex-girlfriends' updates on Facebook to let you know how well they are doing.
Forget about whether the gag is too clichéd. The debate for me in Goodby's holiday rap is whether that is really Jeff Goodby's niece getting drunk. If it's not, it's still a well-produced, self-effacing, better-than-most film. But if it is, then it's reaching a higher level.
AKQA made a sweet little site that uses people's new year resolution tweets to play out the music to Auld Lang Syne. What this neatly does is show everyone that they have managed to muck about with Twitter API to good effect and neatly sidestep the inevitable religious potholes one can get oneself into at this time of year, as evidenced by my first paragraph.
2009's WORST AGENCY HOLIDAY CARDS
Selected by Brian Morrissey, Adweek digital editor.
It's hard to know where to start. It's easy to quibble with the execution of this lip sync, but what's most troubling is the lack of originality. Publicis is copying what a bunch of communication students in Canada did back in September. That earlier video was clever enough to earn more than 3.5 million views on YouTube. What's most galling is that Publicis London failed to do the lip sync in a single shot. That's the entire point. Please revisit Connected Ventures for tips. Its success even got it sued for copyright infringement.
AdFreak has an institutional bias against the use of snow globes in holiday sites. Wundermanland promises a place of frolicking fun. What awaits is a digital house of horrors. Visitors are greeted with a hackneyed holiday scene: a postcard of a snowman inside a snow globe. The interactive twist: You can upload your own photo into the globe and send it around to friends and family. This just isn't very compelling or original.
The snow globe. Again. This time, shaking the snow globes brings you, wait for it, falling snowflakes. Clicking on these yields syrupy holiday wishes from employees, such as, "May we lay down our differences and enjoy the holiday season."
The bar is higher for holiday e-cards from digital shops. So, MRM disappoints us—gravely disappoints us—with the MRM Holiday Tree. To its credit, the shop didn't trot out a snow globe or falling stars. It chose a close cousin: the Christmas holiday tree, which users can interact with by claiming a spot set aside for an unspecified charitable donation.