The making of: The Escape Christmas Card 2018

Hannah Butcher

How do you celebrate Christmas at work? Maybe with an office party, or a 'Secret Santa' exchange. We like those things, but we like being creative even more. That's how we've ended up with our annual tradition of getting the whole team involved in creating a Christmas card for all of our clients, suppliers, friends and associates.

In 2017, we decided to make a Christmas card that featured all of us. But it wasn't enough to simply pop on a Santa hat and say "cheese". Instead, we created an entire scene. If you need to refresh your memory, you can find last year's campaign here.

You may already know this, but our office is a converted farmhouse. It seemed only natural for us to use this as a concept for our Christmas card each year, and become shepherds of our farmhouse.

So in 2018, you'll see that we continue our quest to share the good news about the arrival of the baby Jesus, in a completely different scene to the one we created last year.

Let's just say that we decided to upgrade our donkeys for a bit more horsepower...


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Escape Christmas Card 2018

With the help of Hype Photography, and our client Infinity Motorcycles, we were able to create something quite special. We can't thank them enough, especially as Infinity let us take over their warehouse for a full morning whilst they were open for trade to the public!

There was a bit more to it than simply rocking up wearing some shepherd outfits though; we began planning our card in late September. We started by planning where we should hold our shoot this year, and we all agreed that Infinity would make for a nice contrast from the warm and cosy tones seen in the 2017 iteration.

Planning the photo shoot

After a couple of location recces to figure out where and how we'd shoot, we were pretty confident that we'd be able to make something work in a warehouse space. We needed to have enough room to feature each and every member of our team, including Harley the dog, without getting lost in all of the motorcycle gear. It sounds simple, but we also had to make sure that we could fit in Stuart, our photographer, so he actually had an area to shoot from!

Back in the office, we got the marketing and creative teams together to work on the story elements, and better define the theme for the Christmas card. As we were shooting at Infinity Motorcycles, we decided to adopt the thinking that we were taking a pit stop on the way to spread the good news about the arrival of the baby Jesus and get some faster transport. Like you do.

We had to come up with sub-plots within the wider story, so each member of the team had something to do in the scene rather than just smiling sweetly at the camera. That's why we've ended up with a motorcycle vs toy motorcycle race featuring Lucy, David and Guy, and Ian getting interrupted in the middle of trying on his motorcycle leathers by Lee and Tom Hopkins. There's plenty more going on in the scene too; wait until you spot what Rob's doing (and yes, that's an Escape blue he's using!).

Other than that, we worked on a shopping list of items we'd need on the day, as well as making sure that everyone was available to attend the shoot in one go. But interestingly, every sub-plot of the final image was shot seperately and stitched together later on.

Planning the Escape Christmas card

On the day

Our creative team arrived on location first so they could move some bits around (again, thanks to Infinity for being so acccomodating) and to get the Christmas tree in position. Soon enough, the rest of the team got to the warehouse and changed into their shepherd outfits.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that Philip had a completely different outfit. Last year he didn't get the memo about being shepherds, and came as a leopard. This year he got confused again, and heard 'hiker' instead of 'biker'. At least he brought a Santa hat along though.

Stuart spent the morning with all us as small groups, starting from the left of the scene to the right. This meant that the whole team could watch Rob having his turn, which led to a lot of giggles (particularly from me and Lucy who were almost sent outside by Rob!).

Some aspects were more complicated than others; for example, we had to get the perfect angle so you could see John's red bloomers as he was trying on his boots. If you check back to the 2017 campaign, you'll see him wearing the same pretty pair of pants in that scene too.

We also had to get Tommy to climb a step ladder and reach for the top of the Christmas tree; something that would be a lot less frightening for those not afraid of heights, or tangled up in Christmas lights.

I had the job of jumping at the same time as waving a flag that was almost the same height as me, and it wasn't at all embarassing when Ian and Stuart got me to shout "ready, steady, go" a number of times when I was bringing the flag over my head...

The only team members we didn't capture on the day were Pawel and dog Harley, who needed to go to the photographic studio for their parts. We take health and safety seriously enough that we didn't want to put Pawel on the shelves in the warehouse!

Rob at Christmas card shoot
David at Christmas card shoot
Ian Mumford at The Escape Christmas card photo shoot

Post production

After a fun morning on the shoot, it was time for the creatives to do their thing. Over the next few days the separate images started coming together as one, with Stuart playing a crucial role in the process. When he sent us through the final image, our team were then able to add some special touches.

Notice the wrapped present boxes on the shelf? Or perhaps more obviously, the scene outside of the warehouse? These are the elements that our creative team had a lot of fun working on.

Everything else

When we were happy with the scene in its entirity, we sent our card off to print so each of our clients could receive a copy, as well as some of nearest and nearest from over the years. We also put together a home page takeover for our website to make it more interactive for everyone else to enjoy (this will be live during December 2018).

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