It’s that time of year again, the holiday season, when ad agencies either go completely overboard with impressive holiday cards that would make some of their clients jealous, or else they waste their time with tired, predictable, humbuggy offerings. Here, Chapin Clark and Vinny Warren weigh in on some of the best and worst of the year.
2010’s BEST AGENCY HOLIDAY CARDS
Selected by Chapin Clark, managing director at R/GA
For me, this is how everything should experience family at the holidays—at great remove, on a screen. The idea is simple: You make a reservation, invite your liked ones and share 15 minutes of pseudo-conviviality via video conference. I think Wieden intended this as a way of bringing people closer together, but my first thought was: If only my immediate family had had Skype accounts and networked monitors when I was a child. I’d be a much healthier person.
See the full image here. Wait, where’s the awful music? Where’s the strained irreverence? Why don’t I have to upload my picture to [insert blatant rip-off of Elf Yourself] myself? I’m a bit lost. Anyway, I like this long-copy piece from Droga5 in Sydney, Australia, because it’s both earnest and full of wit. And because the sentiment it expresses—let’s rediscover the fun in our jobs—is right on.
This low-fi holiday greeting from Team One harkens back to a simpler time in digital design, before video became widespread, before Flash vs. HTML5, before good taste. These people look like they’re having fun, and they’re not trying too hard. I find the overall effect endearing.
I’ve never understood the concept of losing at beer pong as a form of punishment. You get to play a fun game with friends, and if things don’t go your way, you’re “forced” to drink a large cup of a wonderful beverage. But when you replace beer with eggnog, which goes down like cake batter, the stakes are altogether different. In Nog Pong, Saatchi L.A. updated the classic frat-house pastime with a deft combination of schadenfreude, altruism and robots. (The site was only up for a few days, but it was fun while it lasted.)
We love the Internet because it’s a grab bag of the enlightening, the entertaining and the bizarre. The minds behind Wondertüte—Google Translate says it’s German for “grab bag,” but who really knows?—have exploited this for a little holiday surprise and delight, social media style. One dollar entitles a Twitter follower or Facebook friend of your choosing to reach into the Wondertüte—no giggling, please—and select a gift. Could be a funny link, could be an iPad. (It’s probably a funny link.) Full disclosure: Christian and Leif are colleagues of mine at R/GA. This is a personal project.
2010’s WORST AGENCY HOLIDAY CARDS
Selected by Vinny Warren, creative director at The Escape Pod
I should point out that I have produced precisely zero agency holiday cards in my career. So, I am arguably unqualified to pass judgment on the well-intentioned labors of others. But since when has lack of actual experience ever stopped someone in advertising from lording it over his or her peers? On with the carnage!
The Publicis yuletide offering almost precisely mirrors my perception of the agency’s brand here in the USA: inoffensive, international, benign. The idea here is that you create your own festive greeting and share it via Facebook and/or Twitter. Publicis will donate $1 for every cheer that gets shared. Good for them! But it’s a bit of a sad commentary on this effort that only 877 people (including me) have thus far bothered to do this. Clearly, not even all Publicis employees can be arsed to play along.
Perhaps unbelievably, digital agency Razorfish actually went and did ElfYourself.com in 2010. The wheeze here is that you get to see yourself sitting on Santa’s lap. How much fun is that? Not much. It was awkward and creepy when I did it for real all those years ago. And it hasn’t gotten much better.
G2’s holiday effort is at least mercifully simple and effortless. You simply click “Like” and G2 will donate $5 to Save the Children. A worthy cause. Can’t argue with that. But you could argue with the complete lack of an idea beyond this. It’s a tad robotic and cold, given the season it purports to celebrate.
A grinch over at AgencySpy dubbed the MRM agency card the “worst…ever.” It’s a slickly produced video featuring (I think) a whistling maître d’ and a Christmas tree that comes to life. And I have to say, it’s oddly compelling in a creepily surreal way. Completely wrong, but somehow it works. The best of the worst.
Perhaps most torturous and baffling of all is the Draftfcb holiday creation. For reasons that remain unclear, they e-mailed a link to three videos that feature a pair of baristas bantering about the Draftfcb holiday card. Amateur dramatics time! The good news is, Draftfcb has made a donation to the Coalition for the Homeless. The bad news is, this was just a terrible idea.