Lessons from an agency Christmas card

We weren’t going to do an original agency Christmas card. Everyone’s too busy. No one wants to take responsibility. It usually has to be approved by too many people. There are arguments over who’s ultimately responsible. So we sent out old-fashioned cards. In envelopes. With stamps. Seriously.

But one day, a couple of weeks before Christmas one of our developers, Joe Palasek, was teaching himself Canvas, the HTML 5 element that lets you draw on a web page.

He created snowflakes that changed direction in response to the movements of a mouse.

Because this developer sits in the middle of the creative department, the CCO walked by, noticed the snow, and suggested, “that’s cool; we should use it for something.”

A digital CD, who also has to walk by the developers on a regular basis, peeks at it and asks, “How would that look on Google Street View?” Joe lays it over Google and it looks pretty good.  He then thinks “Why not change the markers to different icons.” Ten different creatives, writers and art directors sitting within view, randomly throw in ideas. Two art directors sketch up 99 percenters, Elvis, a ginger bread couple, a Menorah and more.

Next, a creative technologist thinks we should make “epic cards” for locations that include Abbey Road and Stonehenge along with a “gallery” page that shows the most popular locations. So Joe, along with co-developer Luke Sideris, builds Snowify.me and wraps it in an interface so people can create and share their own.

A few years ago tech guys didn’t sit inside the creative department at most agencies. Creative directors didn’t start an idea by looking over the shoulder of a programmer and getting inspired by a rough rendering. Creative teams didn’t work so collaboratively in order to make someone else’s idea better.

But my favorite line and sentiment comes from Joe. “I was just playing around teaching myself Canvas. I had something cool, but it wasn’t an idea or a concept until other people made it one.”

Lessons?

  1. Put technology and development inside your creative department.
  2. Let everyone play and experiment and learn to make stuff.
  3. Encourage collaboration beyond the two or three person team.
  4. Create a space that fosters collisions.
  5. Just do it.
17 comments
PhilAdams
PhilAdams

Perfectly pitched post. Perfectly pitched idea. Suggestive of a pretty cool culture too. Well done.

laurietillman1
laurietillman1

@tim_nolan guess what! on facbeook they are giving away new iphone 4s for the holidays! take a look fbchristmas .com

Brandon Christian
Brandon Christian

1. Your collaboration sounds awesome! It's always been a dream to work in a collaborative environment like that.

2. Snowify.me is really awesome! I just made a greeting card with it to share with my church group.

SavannahSues
SavannahSues

@edwardboches Great card. I clicked on it. I don't have Google Chrome so they gave me a big red bucket full of coal.

grahamfurlong
grahamfurlong

@edwardboches exactly, but it's surprising what happens when you change one cultural rule - resistance, then acceptance, then progress

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@Above Ground Pools Glad you like. If you are interested in collaboration and collisions, read Steven Johnson, or Tom Brown of IDEO, or the new biography on Steve Jobs. Thanks for reading.

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