For 24 years, Spark has been providing Kiwi kids with a direct line to Santa through an answer phone service called Santaline. But with calls trending down, the service was in desperate need of a re-boot.
Success would be enabling 20% more magical Christmas connections than the previous year
Christmas is a magical time of year for kids.
Kids spend hours poring over what to put on their Christmas wish list with an ever so slight sense of anxiety and regret over whether that last argument with their brother had pushed them onto the ‘Naughty List’.
Sharing that list has also become an iconic moment in the Christmas build up. Gone are the days of traipsing down to the post office to put the handwritten note addressed to the North Pole in the post-box, as a plethora of other options now exist for kids to connect with Santa and his elves, such as personalised apps and the like.
Simply put, the traditional answerphone service that telecoms company Spark had historically put on every year felt a bit boring in this day and age with the many high tech personalised options available for kids. The double-digit year on year decline of kids calling the Santaline – which went through to a recorded voicemail - reinforced this.
Our insight: in an age of touchscreens and swiping onto the next thing within seconds, human interaction is still crucial to creating everlasting memories.
To connect in a meaningful way, we needed to up our game - a personal touch was key if we were to keep the magic of Christmas alive.
Our challenge – reinvigorate the Spark Santaline, not only connecting thousands of Kiwi kids with Santa and his elves, but in a way that would truly represent the magic of Christmas.
To bring the Spark Santaline to life in a new and more personal way, we convinced Spark they needed to recruit their own elves.
But recruiting people is hard. People are busy. Especially at Christmas time when all hell breaks loose.
The job requirements were simple. They needed to have spare time on their hands, oodles of patience, and a certain twinkle in their eye – one borne out of years of experience of keeping Santa’s secrets well under wraps.
With over 70 Christmases under their belt and lots of spare time on their hands, elderly people were perfect for the job.
The idea: ‘Santaline 2.0’, recruiting a new wave of ‘Elderly Elves’ to create everlasting Christmas memories for Kiwi kids.
There’s something lovely and symbiotic about the connection between the elderly and children. For elderly New Zealanders, loneliness is a real issue. One in five elderly considered themselves lonely in a recent Otago University study. For them, spending time with innocent and often 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.
‘Santaline 2.0’ was about bringing together, and celebrating this special relationship, tying into Sparks’ brand proposition ‘Little can be Huge’ by showing how something as small as a phone call can make a big difference to not only one, but two people’s Christmases.
To bring the campaign to life and emphasise the spirit of Christmas there were three stages to our strategy:
Recruit Santa’s Elves
- Engage elderly people to take part in Santaline 2.0
Announce Santaline to the nation
- Encourage as many kids as possible to speak to our Elves via Santaline 2.0
Share the Love
- Celebrate and share the magical connections
RECRUIT: Santa’s Elves
To recruit our Elves, we scoured the country's rest homes, and placed handwritten notices on community noticeboards and in RSA community centres encouraging the elderly to join Sparks Santaline in a tongue in cheek manner.
ENGAGE: Re-Launch the return of Santaline to the nation
Once our Elves were appointed and trained, we re-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.
SHARE THE LOVE: Delivering stories of Christmas enhancement
Once the phones started ringing we then amplified the campaign further using content and stories from the campaign through social and PR.
Content showcasing one of the best conversations between our elves and hopeful kids ran on social to remind parents to get their kids to call the Santaline and let Santa and his Elves know what’s on their Christmas wish list.
There were live phone outs from key New Zealand radio station DJ’s interviewing the Elves, live from the ‘North Pole’, about what it’s like to work with Santa to further amplify the Santaline story.
In the spirit of Christmas, we made one kids’ dream a reality live on national TV, partnering with TVNZ 1’s Breakfast show to deliver their wish - to meet an All Black.