Spark New Zealand

Client: Spark New Zealand
Product: Spark
Title: Santaline
Media: PHD
Country: New Zealand
Date Of Campaign: 04/12/2017

Background: Every Christmas since 1993, New Zealand telecommunications company Spark has provided Kiwi kids with a direct line to Santa, so they can leave the big man their wish list. Called the Santaline, it had become a much loved and cherished Christmas tradition for hundreds of thousands of Kiwi families for over 20 years. But Santaline was in trouble. Call volumes through to Santaline had been decreasing – down 22% year-on-year for the past five years. How could we help to save the magic of Santa?There were two major problems.1. With the rise of the internet, and accessibility of other, more engaging Santa experiences, a phone call was now perceived as rather old-fashioned by millennial parents.2. And secondly, we needed something more exciting and engaging than just leaving him a message. Our ultimate goal was to keep the magic of Santa alive, through facilitating a real-world connection between Kiwi kids and the North Pole. We also needed to do this amongst the clutter of Christmas messaging, and create a truly magical and emotionally-rich experience for Kiwi kids across the nation.

Idea: For the last twenty four years, (because it’s Santa’s busiest season), every call to Santaline had gone to voicemail. Until now.We recruited a network of ‘Elves’ to help man Santaline, so that for the first time ever, Kiwi kids could ring up Santaline, and speak to a real person. We partnered with Metlifecare, one of New Zealand’s biggest retirement home providers, to recruit a network of old friends who were keen to help, and had a fair bit of spare time on their hands. The only requirements were a minimum of 70 years of Christmas experience, and a cheery disposition. Our Elves answered the phones every day in the three weeks leading up to Christmas, taking calls from children all over the country who couldn’t wait to ring up and tell Santa’s helpers what was on their wish list. On Facebook, we released snippets of real and candid conversations between Elves and the children who called up – as well as profiles of a few of our less camera-shy Elves - so that the country could get to know the faces behind the friendly voices. We also aired radio spots featuring conversations between our Elves and Kiwi kids, encouraging families to go ahead and pick up the phone. Turned out, it wasn’t just the kids who wanted to talk to our Elves. The media jumped all over the idea, with Santa’s helpers appearing on breakfast TV and radio shows, broadcast around the country. One simple idea managed to foster children’s belief in Santa – while also helping the elderly forge heart-warming new connections every day. Showing that one phone call has the power to make two Christmases just that little bit more magical.

Results: For Christmas 2017, we found a way to reinvigorate Santaline, recruiting a network of old friends to help answer calls to Santaline, and sharing the journey on social media to encourage participation. With our team of enthusiastic Elves and a raft of social content driving action, calls poured in. Our first objective was to reverse a five-year declining trend.And we did, with volumes up an unprecedented 27% on the same period last year, helping give more Kiwi kids a magical Christmas. Our second objective was to ensure that we reached as many NZ kids as possible.One in six Kiwi kids interacted with Santaline. And lastly, we wanted to reinstate Santaline as a beacon of Christmas magic.We received news coverage across most major media outlets in New Zealand – kids calls features on television, our Elves were interviewed on the radio, and newspapers even visited them in their ‘workshop.’ In total, our earned media coverage reached nearly 2 million New Zealanders. Not only that, connecting our Elderly ‘Elves’ with kids across the country proved that one phone call has the power to make two Christmases just that little bit more magical.

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