Agency Holiday Cards 2019: A Batch of Our Favorite Creative Season’s Greetings So Far

From self-care to the gender gap, agencies touch on a variety of subjects as they bid adieu to the decade

An image of the Self-Care Calendar
The Hive's holiday card is a self-care advent calendar.
The Hive

Flights are booked, bags are nearly packed and only a few meetings stand between you and what’s hopefully some well-deserved time off.

But before you officially unplug from the industry news cycle, take a minute to peruse what’s become a tradition for agencies each year: the holiday card. For some, it’s a way to flex their creative chops, unburdened by client input and deadlines. Others take the more charitable route, opting to align their annual card with a specific social cause or nonprofit.

At any rate, we’ve rounded up a handful of this year’s cards below, and there will more to come throughout the week. So grab a cup of eggnog and take a gander at the first batch of this year’s eclectic entries, which include a French truffle-hunting dog and a Mrs. Claus toy that’s had enough of the patriarchy.

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Bozell — The Great Excheeriment

A social experiment is underway at Bozell, an integrated marketing services agency in Omaha, Neb. For “The Great Excheeriment,” the agency recently sent each person on its mailing list five prestamped holiday postcards and encouraged them to send the cards to their friends, colleagues and loved ones. Upon receiving the postcards, recipients are asked to “track their cheer” at by uploading their name and ZIP code. On the site, visitors can see where the cards have ended up across the country.

According to Bozell, each postcard was designed by a different art director or designer at the agency.

Colle McVoy — World Wildlife Fund

Minneapolis-based agency Colle McVoy is celebrating the holidays this year by donating to the World Wildlife Fund. To show its support, the agency has created a set of coasters (which double as Christmas ornaments) that feature penguins, narwhals, polar bears and foxes. Each coaster is complete with an animated AR experience that lets users watch the animals come to life. A dedicated site shows how to activate the experience (and encourages visitors to donate to the World Wildlife Fund).

Typically cold-weather creatures on coasters that double as ornaments: fox, polar bear, penguin and narwhal

Dagger — Webcam 

Agencies typically close between Christmas and the new year, but to show just how dedicated its staff is, Atlanta-based agency Dagger has installed a live webcam in its office so clients can see employees working hard over the holidays. Called “The Dagger-Totally-Isn’t-Closed Webcam,” the effort is—surprise!—a joke, as the footage has been filmed in advance.

On Black Friday this year (another day that agency staffers typically have off), the webcam showed some strange occurrences happening in the Dagger office. Check out the video below.

Deutsch — Pie It Forward

Deutsch continued its “Pie It Forward” initiative this holiday season. Ahead of Thanksgiving, the agency sent out not one but two pies to people so that the first can be eaten and the other gifted or donated. The pies, which were baked by Sweet Lady Jane in Los Angeles and Buttermilk Sky Pie in Allen, Texas, each come with a poem crafted by Deutsch.

Poem by Deutsch about holiday pies

Empower — Creative Media: So Good Together

To reinforce the fact that Cincinnati-based Empower has creative and media capabilities, the agency partnered with local Doscher’s Candy Co. to create yellow and blue candy canes, the idea being that each color represents a different capability. One video shows how the custom candy canes were made, while another features an animated reindeer enjoying the sweet treat.

The holiday packages of candy canes come with a poem that extols the virtues of combining creative and media:

The holidays are a time for coming together

But we believe that no matter the weather

Creative and Media working side by side

During spring and summer, fall and yuletide

Mixing data along with advanced analytics

And creative to dazzle the harshest of critics

Making marketing plans fully complete

And return on ad spend ever so sweet

The Hive — Self-Care Calendar

Canadian agency The Hive has created an unconventional advent calendar this year, one that encourages people to remember to prioritize their mental health during what can often be a busy, stressful and cash-strapped season. Called the Self-Care Calendar for Festive Season Survival, it’s filled with messages of encouragement and hope instead of standard candy fare. Case in point: One message tells recipients to “ditch the candy cane and grab a horror flick” if they’d prefer to embrace their inner Grinch this Christmas.

“We wanted to create something that said it was okay if December didn’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year,” said Meghan Kraemer, creative director at The Hive. “The ritual of opening an advent calendar is built around taking time to treat yourself. It felt like such a natural fit to take this familiar and nostalgic tradition and reimagine it as a tool for promoting self-care.”

All proceeds from the calendar, which is currently on sale at Drake General Store locations across Toronto, are going toward the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Kastner LA – Rise Up

Standing desks seem to be all the rage, so Kastner LA is having a little fun with the phenomenon this year by showing us that they offer more than health benefits. In a video set to the emotional ballad “Rise Up” by Andra Day, the agency’s staffers literally rise up via their standing desks. The quirky video reminds viewers to rise above all the doom and gloom that 2019 had to offer.

“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?” said Kastner LA creative director Simone Nobili.

Klick Health — Contagious

In a video created by healthcare agency Klick Health, viewers are reminded that kindness and generosity should be at the heart of the holiday season. The video compiles scenes, all of which were inspired by real moments, that feature small acts of kindness. For instance, at one point, viewers see a doctor dress up as Santa Claus to bring cheer to kids who are stuck in the hospital during the holidays.

The short film positions kindness as a contagion that’s spreading throughout the world, albeit one that’s welcomed instead of feared. For each view, Klick Health is donating $1 (up to $10,000) to the Fred Rogers Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children grow as confident, competent and caring human beings.

160over90 — @OfficiallySC

160over90, the creative arm of holding company Endeavor, has created an Instagram account for one of its newer, “lesser-known” clients: Santa Claus. The account shows the many ways that the agency is giving Saint Nick a 360-degree brand makeover—for instance, one posts shows a product called Blitzen, which is essentially the North Pole’s very own spiked seltzer. Another post boasts HoHoHo+, the streaming service where all Santa-related content can be found.

180LA — Caramel

This year, 180LA is giving clients a shared gift in the form of a truffle-hunting dog (yes, you read that right). According to the agency, a pup named Caramel—who lives in France—symbolizes the “future success” of its shared partnerships. Clients are receiving an official certificate of ownership, which comes complete with a photo of Caramel and a map that shows the truffle farm in Cadenet, France. 180LA said that “shareholders” will soon receive truffles or truffle infused-goods thanks to Caramel’s hard work.

RTO+P — The Year Advertising Saved Christmas

This year, Philadelphia-based RTO+P created a holiday storybook to commemorate the season. According to the agency, “The Year Advertising Saved Christmas” tells the classic tale of “two sides seeing things differently but in the end coming together to make something great and happily drinking eggnog ever after.”

Small Army — Gender Gap Mrs. Claus

Boston-based agency Small Army is raising awareness of pay inequality this holiday season with a series of parody videos that promote the “must-have toy of the year”: Gender Gap Mrs. Claus. Taking a cue from ‘90s toy commercials, the first video rattles off all the fun things that kids can do with their new doll, like “navigate the patriarchal North Pole.”

The second video is a musical ode to Santa Claus that’s quickly interrupted when one girl points out that it’s Mrs. Claus who does all the shopping, mails out the cards and “makes sure everyone around her is merry” each Christmas, yet her husband is the one who gets all the glory. According to Small Army, the agency is “using underrepresented holiday figure Mrs. Claus to show how women in all industries experience bias and discrimination in the workplace due to their gender.”

On a dedicated website Claus the Gap, visitors can purchase a Mrs. Claus paper doll/ornament for $25. Proceeds are going towards Girls Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to empowering and inspiring girls and young women.

Upstatement — Surprise Gift Box

Each year, digital brand and product design studio Upstatement gives clients surprise gift boxes full of objects that have “some significant meaning” to its staffers. This year, the boxes include an eclectic mix: local coffee that one of its designers does packaging for, women’s empowerment pins from Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, a book by graphic designer David Reinfurt and a lock-picking set.

Walrus — Clamato  

Each year, independent agency Walrus sends out a T-shirt as its holiday gift. This year, the agency paid homage to its name by featuring a product that the marine mammal purportedly loves: Clamato juice. Complete with a cartoon walrus character, the shirt isn’t your run-of-the-mill agency swag.

Weber Shandwick – Wrapping Paper 

To cut down on holiday waste, Weber Shandwick created a custom wrapping paper that can easily be printed out. For small or on-the-go gifts, the festive printout provides an eco-friendly (and cheaper) alternative to an entire roll of wrapping paper.

“The impassioned nerds that we are, we most enjoyed coming up with a card that solves a common holiday challenge and is more environmentally friendly. We feel our most useful when we are putting our collective talents towards a task—from strategy to creative to execution,” said Jenna Young, executive creative director at Weber Shandwick. In addition to the custom wrapping paper, the PR firm is making a donation to on behalf of its client partners and employees.

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