The Christmaser

Virtual Holiday Toy

Integrated Components
  • Google Image API
  • 25,000 12 imported Italian twinkle lights
  • Custom GIF class (PHP)
  • Custom Illustration
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How do you top an award-winning holiday e-card?

With the approach of Christmas 2011, a small, dark cloud began looming over a few heads in our hallways. The team tasked with creating the holiday e-card was feeling the pressure from how successful the previous year’s card went over. So brainstorms were had, ideas were tested, and nothing was sticking. At wit’s end, we abandoned all comparisons to last year. Heck, it didn’t even have to be an e-card. And with that removal of expectations, we decided to reframe the question: What is the simplest, yet most addictive toy we could build to reflect our crazy Christmas spirit?

The Machine

With a clearer problem to solve, the team had our idea in a single session: A virtual machine that takes anything you can think of and makes it Christmasy, just by typing in the word. And since we’ve learned that tasteful silliness spawns entertainment, we knew just what to do to these objects to make them officially Christmased. Our machine generated trendy, on-the-fly animated GIF that put lights and snowflakes on top of a Google image, and threw the word Christmas in front. Our goal was literally to make people, through their laughter, say the phrase, “Wait, it just adds those things to an old image?” As playful as the idea was, we built it with serious strategy. For instance, we wanted to make sure users felt like using the machine over and over again, instead of just Christmasing one object and leaving the site. So we tested where to place the search bar and how to write the copy to inspire the most people to use it more than once.

Very Merry Results

Launching less than a week before Christmas (How’s that for cutting it close?), The Christmaser managed to cut through the clutter and steal serious attention from stressed-out shoppers. In fact, the average visitor stayed on the site for more than seven minutes, Christmasing everything from themselves to their old high school soccer coaches to [words we can’t type on our site]. As for recognition, our designers were able to cross another publication off their bucket list. HOW Design, an agency favorite, featured The Christmaser in a special post about memorable holiday promotions. Now that’s how you take the spotlight off the last year’s project. (Best of wishes, 2012 team.)