Gilson Wins Reindeer Games This Christmas

Join us for some Reindeer Games and a marketing campaign so successful, you would even say it glows! When it comes to marketing and Christmas, Gilson has all the holiday magic you’ll ever need.

Reindeer Games: Beyond a Foggy Christmas Eve

Like Santa on a foggy Christmas Eve, everyone could use a little reindeer rescue now and then! But how—you may wonder—does a reindeer relate to Gilson and its business challenges?

It all began with one of our top objectives for the new fiscal year: to increase the percentage of sales arising from new business. We figured the two most effective ways to achieve this were by selling existing services to new clients or to sell new services to existing clients.

Additionally, Gilson’s marketing team was presented with the challenge of broadening the public perspective on the company’s service capabilities from simply “commercial printing” to “full-service marketing.”

The Solution: Rudolph to the Rescue

Recognizing that the holiday season offers an especially good opportunity to communicate with clients, we decided to launch a marketing campaign in early November. An added bonus to this timing was that the campaign would overlap with a Gilson educational “lunch and learn” event focused on direct mail marketing.

The campaign was designed to target warm leads and existing clients and relied on the Gilson sales team—the key disseminator of company information—to communicate the company’s capabilities effectively to customers.

The unlikely star of this campaign was a three-dimensional reindeer and its shiny red nose.

Reindeer Games 1

Click here to enlarge.

The Results: We’ll Go Down in History!

We’re so excited about the success of this campaign that we have to jump ahead for a second. Take a look at these graphs! We saw a 25% response rate within 1 week and a 35.2% rate by the end of the campaign. In addition, the audience growth rate (that represents people who received the campaign through a social share such as email, tweets, and Instagram posts) reached 44% over the 35-day campaign.

The Process: How to Make a Reindeer Fly

Okay, so now let’s slow down the sleigh and explain the steps that led to this successful outcome. Gilson developed a concept for a three-part direct mail campaign that included a pURL registration site with a customized website, and a three-dimensional reindeer as a campaign deliverable. The reindeer was hand-delivered by Gilson account executives—the next best thing to Santa’s elves! The delivery created an opportunity to describe the details of the campaign and show customers how its elements could apply to their business.

Pre-Campaign: Creative, Concept, Development

Previous Gilson holiday campaigns revolved around a three-dimensional Christmas tree that clients assembled for display in their office. After three years of having our sales team deliver trees to client locations, Gilson decided to change it up a bit. Enter: Rudolph, the cardboard reindeer.

Not only was this new deliverable more cost-effective to produce, it engaged customers and generated more interest than a tree that showed up in a client’s office without introduction.

Because prospects and clients needed to participate actively in the campaign to receive the promotional reindeer, they were automatically engaged in a process that demonstrated Gilson’s full-service marketing capabilities. (Remember our original challenge and goal?)


Our targeted audience included three groups: existing Gilson clients, warm leads who had engaged in a dialog with a Gilson account representative but hadn’t done business with us, and individuals who were invited to attend Gilson’s educational seminar on direct mail.

Format & Timeline

Reindeer Games 2

The campaign’s three direct mail components were mailed at two-week intervals. The first mailing was an intriguing 6” x 7” box imprinted with white snowflakes and return address information. Just visible through the back of the box was a shape that appeared to be a red nose. Upon opening the box, the recipient found a notecard with a personalized URL (pURL) and a solitary die-cut red reindeer nose printed with the words, “What good is a red nose without a reindeer? #FindYourRudolph.” Once on the campaign landing page, recipients could update their mailing address and select one of four reindeer designs. Additionally, each recipient could share the campaign by entering a friend’s email address.

The second mail component was a 9” x 4” postcard with similar messaging, which was sent only to those who had not yet responded to the campaign. It also included a pURL and a note from their account executive.

The third mail piece was a 4” x 6” notecard mailed in a kraft paper envelope and sent only to those who had not responded to the campaign.

Reindeer Games 3

Click here to enlarge


The three-dimensional reindeer was designed in-house and sized to fit three-up on a sheet—an efficient and economical alternative to previous campaigns that required multiple sheets for a single deliverable. Gilson produced the reindeer in advance of the holiday season and warehoused the boxed product in Gilson’s fulfillment center until requested by a client. All pieces of the package, including an instruction sheet, box label, and custom carton, were designed and produced in-house.


The key message the campaign communicated is that Gilson is a one-stop service provider for a customer’s complete range of marketing needs. When a marketing challenge arises that a customer just can’t tackle because of time, resources, or any number of factors, Gilson is fully equipped to step in and deliver results.

Just as Santa trusts his nine reindeer to come through for him each and every Christmas Eve, Gilson customers trust us to provide consistently high-quality service in nine areas: creative, composition, web services, technology, printing, large format, mailing, packaging, and fulfillment.

Social Sharing

To increase the impact of the reindeer campaign and encourage it to grow organically, Gilson allowed recipients to share the campaign with a friend. The campaign also extended its reach through customer responses to Gilson’s invitation to email pictures of their reindeer displays to their account executive, or share them online using the hashtags #GilsonReindeer and #FindYourRudolph.

Follow Up

Gilson’s account executives have been key to the campaign’s success at every stage, including post-campaign follow-up. In addition to delivering reindeer personally and explaining to customers how the campaign demonstrates Gilson’s extensive marketing capabilities, our account executives have carefully tracked customer information gathered along the way so they can follow up with a phone call, email, or appointment.

Join us for Reindeer Games

So, now you’ve heard our happy ending; but we’re eager to move on to the next tale of success—the one about you!

If your marketing efforts are as dull as a reindeer without a red nose, harness your sleigh to the Gilson team; then sit back and enjoy the ride!

Remember those nine services? Creative, composition, web services, technology, printing, large format, mailing, packaging, and fulfillment—we have everything you need, and we know how to make it work for you. There are no reindeer games too complicated for us to tackle.

Just give us a jingle—and BELIEVE in the magic of Gilson!