Ringing In the Season

}With 2000 almost behind us, the temptation is to kick back with the wassail and savor the year’s high points. But a few shops have kept on working to give the season some extra flavor.

Ogilvy & Mather is giving the Rockefeller Center tree a run for its money with its own version—a wondrous 16-foot-tall cone made of 1,500 bright red teddy bears.

“I wanted something where when people walked into the lobby, they’d be delighted,” says Brian Collins, creative chief of the shop’s Brand Integration Group and leader of the team that built the tree. “One of the things art does is make people look and look again.”

Agency co-president Rick Boyko had asked Collins for something fun and unique that would express the agency’s brand (that’s why it’s red). All indications are it’s a huge success. Scads of visitors have been photo graphing the tree, and children have been seen hugging it. When the season ends, the bears will be sent to kids in hospitals across the city.

DDB Chicago’s festivities at Park West were roaring last week as a 400-pound lion pranced onstage, surprising (and no doubt terrifying)partygoers. The beast hadn’t escaped from Lincoln Park Zoo a block away—rather, it was Bob Scarpelli’s way of celebrating an award-packed year, including the gold Lion in Cannes for “Whassup?”

The lion, restrained by only a leash, had Scarpelli looking a little ashen, obser vers say. “He pranced on stage, yelled and rolled over. It was a gas,” says one observer (referring, of course, to the lion). The cameo lasted only minutes, though, as staffers quickly flocked to the martini bar for some rabble-rousing.

Visa, for the third straight year, is throwing a party for BBDO. This year it cobbled together a clever audio invite (burned onto CDs) in which Ed Grover (the “It’s everywhere you want to be” guy) recites a gleeful Jim Lesser-scripted celebration of New York’s winter wonderland: “the tree at Rockefeller Center, the windows on 5th Avenue and, of course, the sight of folks from BBDO getting shnockered on free eggnog.” Join us at Sardi’s, Grover says, “a place that’s used to dealing with overly dramatic creative types like you. … It’s exactly where you want to be.”

“He was so excited to do it,” says Visa ad director Elyssa Gray of Grover. “We’re so proud of it, and the agency was shocked that we’d do something like this.”