2017 Winners - Communications: Written or Oral, Announcements and Holiday Cards

First Place

Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, p.c.

Rube Goldberg Holiday Card

Rube Goldberg YHA.pngSummary: In 2015, intellectual property firm Wolf Greenfield went out on a limb and decided to create a holiday card unlike any they had done before, and unlike any card sent by a law firm before. Since 1999, the firm had created unique and fun paper holiday cards that had set certain expectations among clients and contacts; every year as the holidays approached, they began eagerly asking, “What are you going to do for your holiday card this year?” Marketing staff wanted to continue in that vein with a creative card, but move to an e-card, which would signal the firm’s technical know-how, allow for easier sharing, potentially expanding its audience and reduce time and expenses. They located Zach Umperovitch, who had worked on Rube Goldberg machines for the likes of ESPN and Red Bull, and commissioned him to build a machine that would highlight the science and technology expertise of the firm’s practice groups. The machine began with an inventor in her workshop, signing holiday cards, and set off a chain reaction that wound around the room, ultimately resulting in a giant patent stamp descending from the ceiling and a banner unfurling to wish viewers happy holidays. Along the way, elements appeared reflecting each of the firm’s practice groups: for example, pillboxes for the pharmaceutical group and a giant gavel for the litigation group. A video of the machine in action was sent to clients in an e-card. Once viewers reached the end of the video, there was a link to a landing page that provided information about Mr. Umperovitch, a list of objects “hidden” in the video to go back and look for (encouraging people to view the video a second time), and a longer “inventor’s cut” video that offered more detail on how the machine worked. The landing page also included a comments section where people could leave feedback, allowing for the first time a way for recipients to play an active role and connect directly with the firm.

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Since 1999, Wolf Greenfield has created customized holiday cards to send to clients, prospects and others. In 2015, for the first time, they decided to send an e-card rather than a physical card sent via traditional mail. The primary goals were the following:

  • Create a memorable and unique card that reflects the firm’s culture and personality. The firm hoped the card would make contacts smile.
  • Remind recipients of one of Wolf Greenfield’s core strengths, their science and technology expertise (with over 90 percent of their legal professionals have science or engineering degrees.) Wolf Greenfield wanted to express that they are science-loving “nerds” just like our clients.
  • Create “buzz” from recipients passing the card along to their colleagues and friends.
  • Introduce Wolf Greenfield and their brand to those previously unfamiliar with the firm. Because e-cards are much easier to share than paper cards, this was the first time they were able to make this a goal.

Through extensive research, they found someone who could build a Rube Goldberg machine, a contraption over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, including a chain reaction. Wolf Greenfield worked closely with the engineer to determine the machine’s “narrative” about an inventor in her workshop sending out holiday cards. The firm incorporated elements of each of their practice groups: for example, pillboxes for the pharmaceutical group and a giant gavel for the litigation group. They even incorporated past years’ holiday cards. The firm hired a videographer to shoot the machine in action and sent the video to clients via email. Once recipients reached the end, there was a link to a landing page that provided information about the Rube Goldberg builder, a list of objects “hidden” in the video to go back and look for (encouraging people to view the video a second time) and a longer “inventor’s cut” video. The landing page also included a comments section for leaving feedback.

The e-card won Above the Law’s 7th Annual Holiday Card Contest and garnered media attention from The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal. The video received over 13,500 “loads” on Vimeo (it was sent to 10,000 recipients), and Wolf Greenfield experienced huge increases in both traffic to their website and gains in fans and followers on social media. They also received over 50 comments via the feedback form on the landing page, including the following:

  • “Best email card I have ever seen! Creativity befitting an outstanding firm representing very inventive people.”
  • “I have enjoyed your cards in previous years but this one tops the lot. I think it make WG stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Great job!”
  • “Delightful! As innovative as the technology clients you skillfully represent.”
  • “Outstanding effort - did not disappoint and is without a doubt the cleverest Holiday greeting I received this year.”
  • “Who knows, you guys may be the first law firm to have anything go viral.”

This project was truly unique and unlike any law firm holiday card seen in the past. It was actually enjoyable for people to watch, so much so that they wanted to share it, while conveying the firm’s science and technology expertise. Wolf Greenfield not only made their clients smile, but garnered the attention of those who had never heard of the firm before, successfully expanding their brand recognition. It was a huge risk for Wolf Greenfield to undertake, and it succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.