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On 'The Six'th Day of Christmas: How McCann Helped Santa Claus Come to Town in Toronto

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Why working from home just isn't for Santa, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

On 'The Six'th Day of Christmas: How McCann Helped Santa Claus Come to Town in Toronto

Christmas celebrations in November? It feels like sacrilege, and in most cases, it would probably be a fair claim. However, for the past 117 years, Torontonians have allowed for one exception. This is, of course, the Santa Claus Parade - an annual affair which sees thousands of people gather in the streets to watch floats, bands, marchers, clowns, and the titular Mrs and Mr Claus venture from Christie Pits to the St. Lawrence Market. 

But this time of joy amidst the ever-darkening late November backdrop of ‘the 6’ doesn’t happen without preparation. Roads must be closed, volunteers must be wrangled, and, perhaps most importantly, the citizens of Toronto must be made aware of the big day. 

Enter McCann. Over the past month, the agency has worked incredibly hard to ensure the Parade gets all the attention it deserves. Starting with the launch of print-form ads, this campaign - which has been donated, keeping in line with the Parade’s charitable nature - has developed into a multi-channel approach featuring OOH at the bustling Yonge and Dundas Square, transit posters throughout the city, socials (organic for now), and some announcer-read radio features.  


While this may seem like a lot, the agency team has ample reason to pull out all the stops. Where the past two years have been plagued by lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic, this year’s November 20th date will mark the return to an in-person event. As a result, one can expect to see spectators eagerly watching from street curbs instead of their living room couches.  

“After two years away from the streets of Toronto, the Santa Claus Parade is thrilled to be back. We knew this represented a moment of significance for the Parade and the city, and more importantly for the children and families that look forward to the Parade each year,” says Clayton Charters, president and CEO of the Santa Claus Parade. “Working with McCann means working with really creative people who push to try different things, and I think this is just the start of that.”

Clayton is especially fond of McCann’s headlining feature, which introduces the phrase ‘Working from home just isn’t for Santa’. Set to a morose piano rendition of the iconic ‘Jingle Bells’, the 30-second spot sees a saddened Santa sitting in front of his computer - playing with nutcrackers and toy sleighs in an attempt to diffuse the misery of being online, before eventually cocooning himself deep within his hoodie. 

Continuing, Clayton adds he is appreciative of the fresh and inventive nature of McCann's work - and that it hits just the right tone. “It’s playful, of the times, and is unlike anything we’ve done before.”

McCann seems to share Clayton’s enthusiasm. For CDs Amy O’Neill and Bill Schaefer, this campaign perfectly juxtaposes the message, humour and relatability factors. 

“We love the idea of playing off the notion that ‘working from home just isn’t for Santa’, as a way to show Torontonians how much he’s missed them, and to get them excited for his return,” Amy says. “We’ve always seen his ‘jolly’ side, but in this campaign we get to see another, more relatable, side of Santa.” 

The campaign also features several shorter spots, all of which share the same tone, and see Santa struggling with the likes of seeing his outfit stowed away in the closet, and in a somewhat relatable scenario, learning to unmute himself on a web call.  

“We can all relate to being cooped up in the house and the challenges that working from home brings,” Bill states. “This year is exciting, because it’s the first time in two years Santa is back in person and anchoring the parade in downtown Toronto.”


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McCann Canada, Fri, 18 Nov 2022 19:49:49 GMT