Ransom Rudolph

Written By:
David Smith

The Christmas period is rife with tired promotional items so it was chosen as the perfect time to demonstrate our abilities over others. By showcasing our creative edge we were targeting genuine engagement through both traditional and digital media.

We turned the traditional gifting technique on its head – taking Direct Mail and using it to drive conversation online. Once online a social media campaign was born that generated admiration, playful fun and a feel good factor.

The campaign was entitled Ransom Rudolph. In advance of the Christmas gift arriving we built anticipation, urging our targeted followers to look out for their gift. Lucky recipients were initially sent a box of eight premium chocolates, each one representing one of Santa’s famous reindeers, however, the ninth ‘Rudolph’ chocolate, was held back and ‘ransomed’. The only way of getting Rudolph released was to take to their social media channels and beg for his release by including ‘#ransomrudolph’. Once the request was made we reluctantly released Rudolph to complete their gift, creating conversation all the while.

The attention to detail given to presentation and packaging was paramount, designed to illustrate our contemporary take on the Christmas period. Delivered in an elegant crafted cardboard box complete with sad Rudolph Christmas sticker. Even the chocolate box inside was protected with straw straight from Santa’s barn which created intrigue and anticipation.

Inside the chocolates packaging was an insert with a playful illustration and description of each of the reindeer flavour combinations.

To complete the exclusivity of the gifts the packs were hand delivered by bike couriers across the city of Plymouth and beyond in the first week of December 2017 with campaign conversation continuing until 23rd December.



Above anything else the Ransom Rudolph social media campaign created real interest, appreciation and congratulations among those that originally received it and so it certainly achieved our objective of helping us to differentiate ourselves in minds eye of our targets, however, it was the tangible data focused results that were the most impressive.

By taking the traditional direct mail route and re-routing a conversation onto social media campaign, the project was able to engage an audience much wider than the original recipients of the gift.

With a response rate of 38% from actual gift recipients this far outstrips the Direct Marketing Associations (DMA) average response rate of 4.4% for Direct mail in 2017.

As a brand communications consultancy our digital strategy was, up until this campaign, very much focused on producing thought leadership content. Our social activity and influence was fairly unremarkable, so in light of the online data gathered, the high engagement levels very much put Ransom Rudolph’s engagement levels into context.

Using Sprout Social to source data it was identified that from a standing start the campaign achieved a reach of just under 13,000 people, obviously far greater than the number of people that received the package. Social media activity compared to the previous month increased by 711%, with inbound mentions and replies increasing by 345% for the same period.




As with all successful social media campaigns this was designed to take on a life of its own and it certainly did that.

Christmas campaigns, either traditional or innovative such as this, are invariably designed to say thank you, build goodwill, initiate an action or communicate a specific message. This campaign managed to achieve all four things.

It engaged our targets and their networks in a playful and creative conversation. The campaign took advantage of the pre-Christmas spirit and as a result, engagement was better than it might have been at any other time of the year.

People were relaxed as they approached the holiday period and they interacted more with ‘tongue in cheek’ messages that referenced things such as the hostage scene from ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ where hostages develop feeling for their captures and even ‘Russian Roulette’ – all in a delightfully ‘ dark’ and playful manner.

It certainly communicated a key message for the business as it clearly demonstrated how creative thinking can take a relatively inexpensive idea and turn it into a hugely successful social media campaign. Return on investment was significant. The only way of making inexpensive campaigns effective is to add creativity.

The next challenge – is how do you follow that up? The truth is we do have some breathing space between now and next Christmas but whatever we create we’ll ensure it’s not only creative but also with a clear return on investment goal.