The best agency holiday cards of 2016

Don’t let the impending holidays fool you; agencies are still out there grinding away, trying to outdo each other. Not in the boardroom, mind you, but with their personalized holiday cards. Like it or not, it’s agency holiday-card season again. Here’s a collection of some of the better ones making the rounds this year.

Austin-based GSD&M decided to go beyond a regular physical piece of mail, adding a little more buzz to its holiday card this year. Literally. The agency is sending its clients and partners jars of pure honey, collected from bees it has been hosting on its own rooftop. Everything from the jars to the labels, fonts, colors, embossed note and even the honey-inspired recipes inside were hand-selected and created in-house.


Instead of a traditional holiday card, Firstborn developed a VR tower defense survival game called “Nick,” created for the first-person interactive VR platform, the HTC Vive. The game is set in 2027, at a time when civil unrest is gripping the North Pole. Santa Claus has fallen on hard times and decides to keep up with a changing manufacturing landscape by creating a robo-elf manufacturing arm. When Santa’s creation turns into an army bent on his own assassination, he is forced into hiding. The players playing the game must assume the identity “Nick,” Santa Claus’ badass alter-ego, who must save the day.


The agency is sending five little square notes in its holiday cards with feel-good sweet messages on them, so recipients can pass them on and “share the joy.” They were created in-house and overseen by associate creative director Jennifer Schwartz. To keep the joy going, Barker is also making donations in the names of all who receive the cards to Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.


Happy Medium
The concept for this year’s holiday greeting for the Des Moines-based agency was to take something traditional and recognizable during the holidays but make it its own. So it wrote its own version of “My Favorite Things” and shot its team singing along. The agency also created a special website to host the video, which also includes a clickable photo of all of its staff, outlining their own personal favorite things.

Walrus first sent out a t-shirt alongside its holiday card a few years ago, and then brought it back last year. This year is the second year in a row that the agency is sending t-shirts along with its holiday card. This year’s shirt design is a walrus emoticon, inspired by the emoticon in founder Deacon Webster’s email signature, his personal “sign off.” The creative team made a number of different designs for the agency to vote on, but this one was the clear winner.


Wunderman decided to go meta and poke a little fun at itself and agencies in general in this year’s holiday card. The agency has created a full-blown deck of cards called “Deck the Halls” on “how to” create the perfect agency holiday card, based off the internal processes it actually follows during campaigns: from assigning the brief to research and analytics. The deck also includes a video that features Sami Thessman, its chief creative officer, shining a light on all the behind-the-scenes work agencies put in to the ideas they surface to clients.


AKQA’s 2016 holiday card is a children’s story that comes as your child reads it through an iOS app called The Snow Fox. It is a wintry tale of a young child who adventures through the forest with a furry friend in search of its mother. As the child reads, the story animates, coming to life word by word and bringing an element of magic to regular children’s stories. At the end of The Snow Fox, children can create a short memento of their narration to share with family and friends. The story has been created using the latest Siri Kit to turn voice into a reading gesture and is available on mobile in English through iOS.

In lieu of traditional greeting cards, MEC has created a series of fun GIFs for its employees to spread some holiday cheer. Over the course of the holiday season, the agency is also suggesting acts of kindness to brighten people’s days this holiday season. “25 Acts of Kindness” is sharing both personal to professional ideas, such as “Compliment someone to their boss” or “Donate an old piece of clothing for every present you get” to help others thrive this holiday season. It can be followed on its social channels with #MECKindness.


The Gate
In past years, The Gate has created digital games as part of their holiday greetings. But this year, the agency went simple — and true. You can’t have real fun at the office party until the boss leaves, so the agency’s card features its heads, Beau Fraser and David Bernstein, gazing out from the elevator on their way home after the office party.


If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that 2016 was the worst. Bernstein-Rein has taken 16 of 2016’s craziest events — from the Presidential race to the Pokémon Go phenomenon — and turned them into animated GIFs for people to vote on in a March Madness-inspired “Year of Madness Bracket Challenge.” The “Year of Madness Bracket Challenge” is live through Dec. 16, and the agency will share the winning bracket results daily beginning Dec. 19, with the winner being announced Jan. 3. Fans can follow along on Twitter (@Bernstein_Rein) to see who wins.


Connelly Partners
When it comes to wrapping gifts for the holidays, the struggle is real. So Boston-based Connelly Partners decided to turn the relatable frustrations of wrapping presents and film its employees trying to wrap gifts for its holiday card. Ranging from Thanksgiving leftovers to a toy car, staffers are shown wrapping various presents for the agency’s YouTube channel, and the videos are also shared on its other social channels.

Mullen Lowe is shaking up the traditional season’s greetings with its #MLGshakermaker. The website allows people to create and customize their own virtual snow-globe scene and send it to friends and family as an e-card with a personalized message. People can choose from eight different scenes and settings, though MullenLowe’s mascot, the octopus, makes a special appearance in each scene.


SS+K’S holiday card doubles is a 3D virtual reality bobsled ride. The experience has the users sliding through banked turns, jumps, an upside-down loop and more jumps before arriving at the finish line where they are greeted by cheering polar creatures that they’ve encountered along the way. With Google cardboard glasses, users will be able to engage a slow-motion effect at any point throughout the experience to get a better look at the playful world around them. Also at any point throughout the run, snow will fall if the user shakes their head.

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