Every Christmas, creative agencies produce some outstanding festive projects - both for clients and to their own briefs to show off.
Here we've collected our favourite Christmas projects of 2016 - from a short-animated film featuring Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge to studio Isobel's highly anticipated Christmas card where the team dress up as ... well, you'll see. There's also a selection of Christmas playlists to match your mood, and an app by AKQA that will charm any parent or child. And we finished off with the two best commercial Christmas ads of the year, and some wonderful charity campaigns too.
Creative Christmas Projects
Blue Zoo Animation: No More Stuff
Last year Blue Zoo Animation created the humorous (yet rather accurate) Christmas short about wanting “more stuff” and the ridiculous consumerism at Christmas.
This year, they’re back with an epic action movie-esque sequel No More Stuff – where Santa turns ugly to find his elves. See how many movie references you can find in the animation – apparently there’s 20!
Better still, the whole animation was turned around within four weeks.
Panic Animation Studio: Help Santa!
This interactive holiday greeting from Panic will keep you mildly amused whilst enduring the last few hours of work before Christmas. With a rather irritating rendition of Jingle Bells on loop, intermitted by a few Ho, Ho, Ho’s!, help Santa Claus unstick his tongue from an icy powerline next to the chimney, otherwise “no gifts coming your way”. Enjoy.
Anomaly: The 12 Days of Christmas: A Tale of Avian Misery
Ever wondered how strange the 12 Days of Christmas song would be if applied to real life?
In this modern rendition by global marketing agency Anomaly of the traditional festive tune, Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge struggles with trying to fit partridges in a pear tree among other ridiculous poultry from her unrelenting 'true love' into her small London flat.
The film was animated, written and produced by Anomaly as a “gift of entertainment to the nation this Christmas”.
As executive creative director Oli Beale explains: “At Anomaly, if we find something interesting or funny or entertaining or bird-related, we just like to make it. And we have the people here needed to bring almost anything to life. (Within reason. We’re not going to, like, invent a new space ship or something. But production wise, we can do the full shebang.)”
Cog Design's 12 Days of Playlists
Everyone loves a Christmas playlist - but hardly anyone likes the same Christmas playlist. So to help you find one that works for you, Greenwich-based agency Cog Design has created its 12 Days of Playlists - a mini-Advent calendar of festive tunes from Cheesiest to Obscure.
The microsite features some nifty Spotify and Last.fm API-integrations so you can listen to the playlists and see what the team at Cog have been listening to - plus some playlist 'album covers' featuring good old-fashioned scalpel and ruler collages.
This online puzzle game allows users to enter any location on earth and create a 3D topographical model of that place which can then be shared on social media, turned into a puzzle, 3D printed, and sent to the user.
Basically, this project showcases the company’s talent in data design, UX and engagement, and was released as a gift to celebrate Christmas from the team.
McGarrybowen London: Brexit Crackers for The Guardian
Although the chance to get yourself a Brexit cracker seems no longer available, we can all appreciate UK advertising agency McGarrybowen’s recreation of the traditional holiday cracker.
The prizes within are themed around the EU referendum debate, with toys like a yo-yoing pound, a toy Brexit Bus, a tiny book of Brexit plans or a jigsaw puzzle of the EU where you can try and make the UK fit.
Each cracker also contains a political joke:
Q: Why did Michael Gove leave his Christmas dinner?
A: He didn’t like Brussels.
Sarah J Coleman: Christmas Wrapping Paper
Seven designs have been printed in the UK on FSC 120gsm paper using biodegradable inks. You can buy a set of all the seven designs, or three sheets of your favourite one.
Choose from Vintage Baubling, Inkflakes, Christmas Lace and Cocoaflakes among other funky designs.
isobel: Christmas card
Every year creative agency isobel produces a Christmas card involving the team posing as particular a group of people in perfect poise. Past Christmas card stagings include a group photo of accountants, the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and a primary school.
Marking a decade of producing the Christmas cards this year, the team is kitted out in leotards and tutus to create a tableaux from Swan Lake. Paul Thompson photographs the scene, after four hours of preparation and a total of 10 hours to complete the shoot.
Mummu: Claus: Behind The Tinsel
This animation teaser by Mummu studio paints Santa Claus as a sinister character not to be trusted, following the current popularity in series such as Making a Murderer and documentaries like Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie.
The Christmas mockumentary trailer for Claus: Behind The Tinsel - by the East London animation studio - ponders whether we really know the man behind Christmas.
AKQA: The Snow Fox
AKQA has just launched an free iPhone/iPad app that encourages children to read in a unique way (though one we expect to see copied a lot).
The Snow Fox app uses Apple's SiriKit voice recognition technology so, as the child reads the words on the screen, they light up. Completing sentences and pages triggers animations or turns the 'page'.
The story of the Snow Fox follows a young child who adventures through the forest with a fox in search of their mother. The aim is to create bedtime story bonding behind the child and parent.
AKQA has also produced a heartwarming ad to promote the app. You can watch this below.
Art&Graft: Yule Log
Various animation artists that bring the Yule Log tradition into the digital age contribute to the Yule Log short film collection.
Originally as a gift to the residents of New York, Yule Log was a television program that ran between two and hour hours – essentially a film loop of a Yule log burning in a fireplace with traditional classical Christmas music playing in the background without a commercial break.
It was designed for those living in apartments who didn’t have a real fireplace.
Now in its fourth year, creative agency’s now see the Yule Log short film collection as their gift to the internet, and a chance to raise funds for children from the Bronx to learn to code.
Fifty participants were chose out of 1000 applications.
Here’s London design studio Art&Graft’s 2016 contribution – Hot Tub – featuring a colour cast of coal characters.
Christmas Ads for Clients
Allegro: English for Beginners
This Christmas advert by online auction website Allegro follows the story of a Polish grandfather learning English from an audio set he bought from the website.
At the end of the film we discover the man’s intention for learning English – to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
The ad was created
Wes Anderson: Come Together for H&M
We can’t have a Christmas ads section without mentioning H&M’s epic effort to have Wes Anderson direct their ad for this year.
The ad beautifully encapsulates everything Wes Anderson – from symmetrical compositions, pastel colours, trains and snow and of course, Adrien Brody – the ad is essentially a Christmas version of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Charity Christmas Projects
UK slavery awareness charity Unseen has teamed up with four illustrators to create Christmas paper chains depicting real life stories of sufferers.
Each of the four paper chain decorations is inspired by a personal story of someone affected by slavery.
The project was facilitated by creative agency Aesop, along with the four illustrators represented by B&A – David Doran, Andrew Rae, Radio and Tom Jay.
The paper chains are available to buy here, with all proceeds going to Unseen.
Christian Aid: A Stranger Christmas Story
Christian Aid have launched an inventive style stop-frame animation film interlacing themes from Netflix series Stranger Things with the classic Nativity story, directed by Rebecca Gower.
The film cleverly uses contemporary pop culture to draw attention to the worst global displacement crisis of our time.
Grey Canada: Poverty Isn’t Always Easy to See for The Salvation Army
Grey Canada uses Facebook’s 360 image feature to highlight how easy it is to avoid or turn a blind eye to poverty at Christmas.
The initial scene shows a happy family posing together, until the camera is panned around to see a empty and barren house.
Beautifully simple yet effective, this ad sends a clear reminder to reach out.
The Most Ridiculous Christmas Ad
Buzzman: Christmas Jumper for Burger King France
Burger King goes slightly ridiculous with this flame-grilled sweater. Perhaps the modern day Yule Log - all you need is your phone, and you’ve got a fire going on in your belly.
The best part is – you can actually buy the jumper for €29.90.