Halloween hasn’t cast it’s ghoulish shadow over us yet, the sleigh bells haven’t even started thinking about ringing and businesses are already fighting each other in the streets to win our custom. Restaurants have their menus on the tables — “Book early to avoid disappointment!” — enticing you in for a festive meal. Products on supermarket shelves are emblazoned with Christmas bling and mince pies are already on special offer.
The design agency uses Christmas as a chance to throw some light-hearted fun across the dull, cold winter days and show their clients and the world exactly how creative their designers can be. Years gone by, before URLs and email, design agencies would exhibit their creativity via traditional printed medium — The Christmas Card. Today it’s different, diversity in media channels as communication platforms are being presented to us like gifts from good old Saint Nick. It is inexcusable for a business to not produce a Christmas message for its valued clients.
The problem a designer now encounters, is with so many vehicles available in which to deliver their message, the possibilities literally become a nightmare before Christmas. One could produce a seasons greeting to be viewed in an email. It might be decided that an animated message would be best or the previously mentioned traditional printed card. Maybe a video that is shown to the world on YouTube is the way to go? How about the clever use of a QR code, allowing the viewer to download or view a message on a smartphone? Smartphones! Entire apps can be developed along with responsive websites with features like parallax scrolling, layered objects that move at different speeds and direction to bring websites to life. It’s that frustrating question in the mind of every designer who is tasked with producing the agency message – “Which vehicle should I use?” Of course it’s not always down to the preference of the designer.
If you thought that was enough to perplex the humble agency designer you’d be wrong. Once the vehicle has been chosen the difficult part is thinking of an idea worthy enough to put out there into the clients’ domain and beyond. Every agency wants to show off their creative prowess and feel smug in self satisfaction of knowing their Christmas message oozes charm and wit. If this message is really good, it will go viral on the web. People will post and re-post it onto various online industry magazines and then the pinners on Pinterest will get their hands on it and up it goes onto a user’s various boards. Before you know it, the design produced is trending on Twitter, shared on Facebook and it looks like a perfect end to the working year. That’s the scenario that everyone wants to happen. The reality can be quite different.
So now the designer finds himself in the middle — the creative zone — after the vehicle selection but before the public critique of the end concept. There two halves of designers, those who never seem to worry and conjure up ideas in front of their face before they have even finished reading the brief. The other half of designers break out into a cold sweat, cursing the day they decided being a designer was a cool career choice. With good intentions of nailing this Christmas project midway through November, the creative juices begin to wash over the designer’s grey matter. Research begins and notes are scribbled, clever idea’s are out there for sure. December rolls in, Christmas carols are being recited and Spotify is helping out on the designers Mac by streaming a festive playlist. Yet the ideas are still being scamped out.
Research has led to the famous examples of an agency Christmas message but so far the only ideas the designer has, aren’t worth the farts produced from the brussel sprouts in a Christmas day dinner. ‘It’s okay’ mutters the designer. ‘This is the creative process and you can’t rush a good idea.’ The second week of December is knocking, and Santa’s are gracing grottos all over the world. Slight worry turns to crazed lunacy and even the silly cartoon Christmas cards on the market stall seem like a better solution than what our stressed out designer can muster.
Then as usually is the case, our designer who had only this morning been banging his head against the desk, will find his break — his eureka moment — in the most unlikeliest of places. On this occasion it will be the toilet. The elusive idea has finally presented itself and the designer is now doubly relieved as he sits on the porcelain throne. So much so, he renames his eureka moment as the ‘Thank-Fuck-For-That” moment. Grateful that his subconscious mind was there to rescue him from his dilemma.
After that the process is easy in comparison. Christmas can begin again because once the idea has been formulated in the mind, the rest is just using the tools that the designer has been taught to use. The solution is reached, agency staff give you a well done and say how nice the piece of work is and the boss asks how much time was logged on the job. Everything is back to normal. Unbeknown to the rest of the team, at night the designer was dreaming of dancing elves, murderous snowmen and in the daytime close to being stir-crazy and changing his name to Rudolph.
Over for another year, the designer vows to start thinking about next years message in good time. Like the month of January…