by Brittany Willes, contributing writer, PostPress

Christmas is all about traditions – the decorations, the carols and, of course, the advent calendars. This past Christmas, specialty finisher MCD, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, opted to take the traditional advent calendar and give it a modern twist.

“We always look for something new or unique – as do our clients,” remarked Brad Peterson, sales and marketing coordinator for MCD. Thus, the Twelve Days of MCD Christmas card was created, combining elements of the classic advent calendar with interactive features to surprise and delight recipients.

“Every year, we create a truly unique MCD marketing piece to feature our diverse value-added services,” Peterson explained. “Our team loves challenges. This project was all about combining some of our most interesting services into a single piece.”

Combining several finishing processes into the Twelve Days card required a great deal of coordination between MCD’s design and production teams as they worked to create a truly unique piece. Loosely themed on the concept of a lottery ticket, the card itself was printed on 12 pt. C1S cover with 4-color and spot varnish on one side.

A combination of black, green and red inks added an appropriate holiday feel, in addition to images of classic holiday decorations. The finished card boasted red, gold and clear rainbow holographic foil stamping to create a shimmering, eye-catching effect.

Once the overall design was in place, MCD’s production team worked to make sure every element came together as efficiently as possible. “We set up three Kluges to run embossing and all foil passes in one pass,” said Peterson.  Foil dies were provided by Metal Magic while the foil was provided by Kurz.

The clear, rainbow holographic foil featured a register emboss, while the double-etched red foil stamping added further detail to the foil-stamped holiday decorations. As soon as the embossing and foil stamping were complete, the card was diecut to create the interactive pull tabs. Those processes were followed by gluing, folding and assembly.

Given the number of elements combined into a single piece, the production process easily could have been a challenging one. However, the design and production teams were able to come together in a relatively smooth process. “Designing with many different elements has its challenges,” remarked Peterson. “But overall, this process came with very minor setbacks. We knew from the start that we created a quality design, and the production
team developed a plan to knock it out quickly and efficiently.”

While the physical card was impressive on its own, the interactive elements took the piece to a whole new level of fun and excitement for recipients. As with a traditional advent calendar, the diecut tabs could be pulled back to reveal a surprise – a chance to win prizes in MCD’s Twelve Days of MCD holiday contest. Recipients were invited to follow along via email or through MCD’s website each business day from December 2 through  17. If the symbol revealed by their card matched the corresponding one on the website for that day, that recipient was a winner!

“Our first thought was ‘How do we create a marketing piece to feature an interactive contest?’” said Peterson. “The pull-tab pop-ups highlighted by foil stamping and embossing were a showstopper. From planning to design, production and marketing, our team accomplished something special.”

The card and the contest were an overwhelming success for MCD. According to Peterson, the reception to both was “Out of this world! We exceeded even our highest expectations, with over 50% read rates on our daily emails and over 30 prize winners. Even those who didn’t win prizes found the contest engaging and had a lot of fun playing.”