Branding - Direct Mail - Fundraising

Reality Xmas


From Aleppo and Yemen, to the refugee crises and beyond, conflict across the Middle East in 2016, and its many repercussions, had presented a bleak outlook going into the festive period. Humanitarian charity Doctors of The World, whose fearless volunteers provided vital medical aid across the region, needed to raise awareness and donations at this critical time.


Every Christmas, romanticized images of the ‘Holy Land’ are posted out as greetings cards. Everything looks calm and peaceful. Yet today, the Middle East is ravaged by war. Doctors of the World sought to remind people of this inconvenient truth with #RealityXmas, a set of Christmas cards designed to spark debate, provoke outrage, get petition signatures and increase donations. Combining traditional nativity scenes with 2016 editorial war images, the cards went global, gaining an unprecedented response.



The cards created 1.78 billion online impressions, a 1853% increase in website traffic, acting as a catalyst for 152,468 ‘Free Aleppo’ petition signatures, and helping donations soar 336% above the initial target, enabling Doctors of The World volunteers to continue to provide medical aid across the Middle East.



What’s brilliant about this piece of communication is that it did two very different jobs at the same time.

  • First, it raised money through the sale of the cards to people who wanted to give a damn at Christmas and support a worthy cause.
  • Two, it built brand awareness and generated huge global interest in a charity not many may have heard of before.

Also, what I love about this is here is a big, TV-driven agency (McCann London) discovering that DM is not only a medium that delivers results, it delivers awards too. If this doesn’t win Gold at Cannes, the first example of mail to win a Gold Lion, then I’ll be amazed.



Agency: McCann London

Client: Doctors of the World

Country: United Kingdom

Date of campaign: December 2016

Patrick Collister
Patrick Collister

Editor Directory Magazine

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