Short List
Product / ServiceSPARK SANTALINE
CategoryF01. Excellence in Media Insights & Strategy
EntrantPHD Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Idea Creation COLENSO BBDO Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Media Placement PHD Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

The Campaign

In an age of touchscreens and swiping onto the next thing, human interaction is still crucial to creating everlasting memories. So our idea was to recruit new ‘elves’ to bring Santaline to life in a new and more personal way. With plenty of spare time, oodles of patience, and many years of Christmas experience, elderly people were perfect for the job. There’s something lovely and symbiotic about the connection between the elderly and children. For elderly New Zealanders, loneliness is a real issue. A recent Otago University study revealed 20% of elderly considered themselves lonely. For them, spending time with innocent, uncensored kids is both energising and fulfils a sense of feeling needed again. For kids, this energised and highly engaged attention from the elderly makes them feel equally special. The idea: ‘Santaline 2.0’, recruiting a new wave of ‘Elderly Elves’ to create everlasting Christmas memories for Kiwi kids.

Creative Execution

1. RECRUIT: We scoured the country's rest homes, and placed handwritten notices on community noticeboards and in RSA's encouraging the elderly to join Sparks Santaline. 2. ANNOUNCE: We launched Santaline to the nation, prompting calls via a heart-warming social video, radio ads which utilized recordings of our Elves talking to children on the Santaline, and profiles of our Elves on Facebook introducing them and calling out their favourite requests received so far. 3. SHARE: We amplified content showcasing the best conversations between our elves and hopeful kids on social to remind parents to get their kids to call the Santaline. We worked with NZ’s biggest radio stations to interview the elves live ‘from the north pole’ about what it’s like to work with Santa to further amplify the Santaline story We even made one kids’ wish become a reality live on New Zealand’s biggest breakfast TV show.

The phones rang off the hook from day one, and didn’t stop until Christmas day. Over 135,000 connections were made through the Santaline, up a massive 27% compared to 2016 and above our target of a 20% increase, reversing the trend of double digit declines for the last three years. The overall reach for social was 1.2M and saw over 10,000 post actions (likes, shares, comments) achieving a 4% video view rate for the hero film, above the 3% benchmark. The segment on TVNZ 1’s Breakfast show, featuring an Elf personally delivering one special kids' wish to meet an All Black, ran for 4.5 minutes reaching 115,000 people. Earned media coverage reached 1.9M New Zealanders with a total PR earned value of $95,184, achieving an ROI of 31:1 Most importantly, the campaign demonstrated that something as simple as a phone call can make a big difference to two people’s Christmas.

Spark, NZ’s biggest telco, has provided Kiwi kids with a direct line to Santa through an answer phone service called Santaline every Christmas for 24 years. But calls were trending down, and the service was in desperate need of a re-boot. Our idea harnessed the special relationship of the elderly and kids by recruiting ‘Elderly Elves’ to answer the phones. We used clever and non-traditional media to recruit our elves, who with the kids, become the heart-warming stars of our campaign. The media strategy was key to leverage content across social and PR to spark many more meaningful connections.

Insights, Strategy and the Idea

To bring the campaign to life and emphasise the spirit of Christmas, there were three stages to our comms strategy: 1. Recruit Santa’s Elves Engage elderly people to take part in Santaline 2.0 2. Announce Santaline 2.0 to the nation As soon as our elves were appointed and trained, we needed to drive reach and scale in order to encourage as many kids as possible to speak to our Elves via Santaline 2.0, 3. Share the Love Once the phones started ringing, we amplified the campaign further using content and stories from our elves via social, radio and PR, sparking even further magical connections amongst New Zealanders.


Name Company Position
Anna Gilbert PHD Account Director
Victoria Fruean Spark PR & Activate Account Director
James Davidson PHD Strategy Director
Joanne Palmgren PHD Digital Director
Rebecca Gibb PHD Account Executive
Alex Crossan PHD Digital Exec
Rachel Leyland PHD Business Director
Jas Gierlinski PHD Group Business Director
Cassidy Meredith Spark PR & Activate Senior Account Director
Heidi Thompson Spark PR & Activate Senior Account Manager
Julianna Permitin Spark PR & Activate Account Executive
Charlotte Eddowes Colenso BBDO Project Manager
Renata Gordon Colenso BBDO Senior Account Director
Eloise Jack Colenso BBDO Copywriter
Charlie Godinet Colenso BBDO Art Director
Mike Davison Colenso BBDO Creative Director
Levi Slavin Colenso BBDO Chief Creative Officer
Nick Worthington Colenso BBDO Creative Chairman
Jess Blake Colenso BBDO Strategy
Cherie Mason Colenso BBDO Producer
Frith Wilson-Hughes Spark Social Communications Manager
Ellie Cross Spark Senior Communications Partner
Sarah Williams Spark Head of Brand, Communications & Experience