The arms race in the agency-holiday-cards business has become positively nuclear over the years. New tech is employed, charities are bestowed with cash in lieu of branded gifts (which is a great trend, BTW), and the cheeky-cleverness in video greetings reaches a fever pitch. It’s even enough to spawn this Charlie Brown spoof that satirizes the whole process.
In its tradition of elevating the holiday card concept to a holiday event, this season Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam unleashed the most unholy of holiday greeting-bearers: a creepy Santa Claus known as the Mother Bucker that bucks agency staff off his lap on behalf of friends and family.
Huh, you say? Let us explain. Enamored by big ideas, experienced at real-time events (to wit: this), and fans of general tomfoolery, the agency wanted to create a bit of an internal competition for a good cause, rather than send out a general greeting. "It was our closing project and we really wanted to go out with a bang. After bouncing a number of ideas around we came back to Mother Bucker," says Judd Caraway, the Father of the Kennedys, which is the agency’s apprenticeship program and the creators of the idea. "We really wanted to push the creative aspect while also providing a bit of office revelry and something that would make people laugh during the holiday season. If you can’t laugh at and with your friends and coworkers it’s just not the holiday season. And it was pretty damn hilarious."
Broadcast via Ustream over Facebook, agency staffers gave out specific numbers to friends and family. When that person’s number was shown, their friend or loved one would mount the festive steed and give it their best shot. It was amusing and totally surreal. (You can see agency ECD Mark Bernath have a go on behalf of Co.Create here.)
Don’t think it’s all fun and mother-bucking games, however. The entire chiropractic-inducing stunt was all in the name of charity.
"We’re in the business of getting people to buy things, but a lot of people can’t. Using our creativity to help those less fortunate is just the right thing to do," say ECDs Mark Bernath and Eric Quennoy. "The Agency Christmas Card is often overly self-promotional or just plain wasteful. Does anyone really need some of the crap that gets sent out? Logo-emblazoned wine tools and all the rest of it. Surely a mechanical bull hidden in Santa’s right thigh is more useful to society. Especially one that raises money for charity."
Adds agency MD Clay Mills, "We wanted to get people to compete for a good cause. Badass Santa was a fresh, insane challenge to pit people against—combining the nostalgia for Santa’s lap with the entertaining physical visual feast of the bucking bronco. "
Hard to argue with that. The winning Mother Bucker from the live event was Heineken’s account exec Luis Ortiz, who managed to stay on crazy Santa’s lap for an epic 2.22 minutes. The winner’s friend will chose which charity receives the donation, which will be "the number of seconds of the winning ride with a zero added to the end of it."
See how it all went down here: