|Title||BURNT CHRISTMAS TREE|
|Brand||AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS|
|Product / Service||DISASTER RELIEF FUND|
|Category||B05. Use of Ambient Media: Large Scale|
|Entrant||DDB SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA|
|Idea Creation||DDB SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA|
|PR||MANGO Sydney, AUSTRALIA|
|Production||SCOUNDREL Sydney, AUSTRALIA|
|Ben Welsh||DDB Sydney||Chief Creative Officer|
|Tara Ford||DDB Sydney||Chief Creative Officer|
|Matt Chandler||DDB Sydney||Deputy Executive Creative Director|
|David Jackson||DDB Sydney||Creative Partner|
|Elaine Li||DDB Sydney||Art Director|
|Jared Wicker||DDB Sydney||Copywriter|
|Ramon Rodriguez||DDB Sydney||Senior Designer|
|Renata Barbosa||DDB Sydney||Head of Integrated Content|
|Silas Basich||DDB Sydney||Editor|
|Andy Stewart||DDB Sydney||Senior Sound Designer|
|Tabitha Fairbairn||Mango Sydney||Managing Director|
|Ben Handberg||Mango Sydney||Head of Consumer|
|Gina Leung||Mango Sydney||Senior Account Manager|
|Adrian Shapiro||Scoundrel||Executive Producer|
|Selina Miles||Scoundrel||Director BTS|
The Burnt Christmas Tree was a unique activation that was erected in a city square that ordinarily has no advertising. It leveraged the surrounding city block to shake christmas shoppers out of their daily routine in a moving and visceral way.
As Christmas 2019 approached, bushfires had already destroyed hundreds of rural Australian homes. These communities needed help recovering from the most devastating natural disaster in decades, during what was supposed to be the most joyful time of the year. Meanwhile, those living in smoke-choked Sydney and beyond felt helpless. The Red Cross wanted a powerful way to launch their bushfire appeal that would help those unaffected by the fires truly comprehend their destruction – and provide a simple way to help.
Sydney’s downtown was packed with festive holiday decorations, but something about them felt hollow. To launch the Australian Red Cross’ bushfire appeal, we built a more fitting kind of Christmas tree. One made entirely of materials from fire-stricken areas – including burnt wood, charred bike wheels and even a scorched fire alarm. Onlookers listened to an audio tour that shared visceral, personal stories behind these powerful decorations. Afterward, they could donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery by scanning gifts underneath or talking to a nearby volunteer. This tree not only brought home the devastation of the fire but also gave Australians a symbol to rally around – inspiring them to donate at the tree and from home.
Every Christmas, Sydney’s downtown is packed with festive decorations – including giant Christmas trees in every square. But with fires raging just outside the city and ghostly smoke choking downtown buildings, these gestures felt hollow and the Australian people felt helpless. We worked with the City of Sydney to erect our burnt tree in a bustling city square that had, in previous years, housed a much more festive one. This location was only a block or two away from Sydney’s biggest, tinsel-strewn shopping malls – providing a striking juxtaposition that shook thousands of Christmas shoppers out of their daily routine, inspiring them to give a different kind of gift this year.
The first thing we did was recruit James Dive, the locally famous artist behind the festive Martin Place Christmas Tree – a hallmark of Christmas in Sydney. He was determined to build the tree entirely out of materials caught in the fires. So, we travelled hours outside of Sydney to collect anything we could find. Not just scorched branches and wood, but also signs of former life: charred metal roof scraps, burnt toys, and more. We built the tree overnight on the 15th of December in Sydney’s bustling Wynyard Square – where it stood for four days. As soon as it was erected, we developed a communications strategy that slowly and sensitively built awareness of the tree through social media. After just one day, the city had rallied around this symbol. As word spread, we organized interviews with international organizations like Reuters and CNN International – inspiring help worldwide.
We managed interviews with Reuters and CNN International. The City of Sydney, the Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the Red Cross and thousands more shared the Tree on social media. And soon, the world took notice. As word spread, the Burnt Christmas Tree became a symbol of support and solidarity. Its story was told more than 320 times in over 30 countries, by publications like The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post. Ultimately, the Burnt Christmas Tree reached over 700 million people, launching a Red Cross fundraising campaign that earned over $213 million from concerned world citizens who had previously felt helpless in the face of the bushfires.