Agency: MRM//McCann New York

Objectives

Every holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service receives millions of letters addressed to Santa Claus. Most are written by needy children asking for help with basic needs. The Postal Service felt a responsibility to deliver these letters - letters written in hope of having a happy holiday. Operation Santa was started by the Postal Service to give the public an opportunity to respond to these undeliverable letters. Our goal was for every letter to receive a response. We wanted to make every New Yorker in our digital pilot program a Santa, and to prove that the project could scale nationwide.

Strategy

Letters to Santa are filled with data: names, addresses, ages, shoe sizes - information only Santa knows. We created an online platform for letters, vetted and sorted based on the information they contained.

We scanned every letter, pulling key data points to share what was needed to fulfill a wish. Things like children's first names for a personal connection, ages and clothing sizes, and asks and wants that could be fulfilled. Sensitive information, like last names and addresses, was encrypted, used only by the Postal Service for delivery later. Our system even allowed us to receive two different letters at two different times from a brother and sister, then instantly pair them together for adoption. Letters grouped by household would be adopted together to ensure all children in the same home get a response.