Colenso BBDO 66 The Christmas Restraining Order

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Simon Vicars (CCO), Maria Devereux (CIO), Dave Brady (Head of Art)
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Charlotte Upton (Art Director), Callum McDonald (Copywriter), Scott Chapman (Producer), Rob Campbell (CSO)
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Angela Watson (Managing Director)
  • Client

The brief

Every year, ad agencies give their clients a Christmas gift. But 2021 was not a normal year. Covid, the Great Resignation, and fluctuating consumer confidence hit the ad industry hard. By December, we all needed a break. Our brief was to create a Christmas gift for our clients that acknowledged the universal hardships of 2021 and the need for a mutually restorative break.

The idea

So this Christmas we sent our clients a restraining order, prohibiting any contact for 21 days over the Christmas break. The order was beautifully designed into the label of a bottle of wine, each packaged in a manila box and ‘served’ to our clients in person.

The conditions of order were a cleverly phrased mix of humorous industry insights and harsh legalese. For example, breaching the order resulted in penalties such as “any briefs received after 12pm on a Friday will be lit on fire”.

The box was tied together with a pink ribbon, as legal documents have been for hundreds of years. The label was even stamped with our own Colenso High Court coat of arms that included nods to our agency’s culture, such as takeaway coffee cups and award trophies.

By juxtaposing the stern design of a court order with the wholesomeness of a ribboned package, we managed to turn a cold-hearted legal document into the perfect Christmas present.

The results

The Christmas Restraining Order worked. For 21 days we received zero briefs, zero emails, and zero phone calls (and one well-deserved Christmas break).

The response from our clients was overwhelmingly positive. We made them want to work with us even more by forcing them not to. We saw some of the biggest names in advertising reach out to share their enthusiasm on social media. On Linkedin in particular, we had over 130,000 impressions in just a few days. Cindy Gallop dubbed it the “BEST CLIENT HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER.”