Agency Builds Holiday E-Card Around Participation

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Holiday cards typically work in just one direction: The intended recipient receives a card, reads it and that's the end of the story. Hoping to encourage more user participation, however, interactive marketing company Resource Interactive this year sent a holiday card via e-mail to 1,500 clients and friends asking them to add an ornament inside a virtual pop-up book. As of Dec. 29, 1,000 ornaments had been placed.

User participation "is something that we preach to our clients a lot -- so we should really be practicing it ourselves," said Mark Hillman, Resource Interactive associate creative director for online media and advertising. "The experience is much more memorable if you feel like you've been a part of it."

The e-mail, sent Dec. 15, arrived with an invitation to "become part of the Resource Interactive story in a whole new way" by opening the digital holiday pop-up book titled "Miracle on Front Street." Resource Interactive's offices are on Front Street in Columbus, OH.

After clicking on the book, it falls back and opens to a page in the middle, where a city landscape pops up and copy drops down explaining that Resource Interactive invites recipients to add an ornament to its front yard.

"We wanted to feature our building for people who have no visual clue of what Resource Interactive looks like," Hillman said, adding that even if someone never has visited New York, they have an idea of what a New York agency looks like. This isn't the case for Columbus, he said.

The ornaments consist of a snowman, Christmas tree, dreidel, menorah, pink flamingo, reindeer and lamp, among others.

"We wanted to be religiously sensitive," Hillman said of the eclectic mix.

For every ornament placed, the company is donating to Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation. Each recipient could place only one ornament. But recipients can forward the e-mail to someone else, who can add an ornament, too.

There is also a pull-tab that makes the scene turn to nighttime and the buildings light up.

The pop-up book turns the idea of placing ornaments into something more special and like a fairytale, Hillman said.

This is "definitely the most successful" holiday card Resource Interactive ever created, he said. It recently was picked by Design Interact, a Web site for graphic designers, for its second annual roundup of the best holiday e-cards from designers worldwide.

The only problem is "how will we top it next year?" Hillman said.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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