Helping Google Believe in Santa


In February 2016, Macy’s was searching for a new holiday campaign and new agency. Their brief: recapture leadership of the Christmas season.


Brand research showed that Macy’s had equity in their “Believe / Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” Brand Story, which told the story of a famous 1897 op-ed article, written to answer a little girl’s question about Santa being real. However, today’s world is a very different place, filled with negativity and cynicism. F&P decided to modernize the concept for a new generation. We kept the core Brand Story of Believe but we told it in an entirely new way, using all our different audiences and harnessing the power of culture.


Today, when children want to know “Is Santa real?”, they go straight to Google. Sadly, the very first answer they find is an emphatic “No”. As the Believe brand, that wasn’t good enough. We had to make America, and Google, believe in Santa again.

We created The Santa Project, an ambitious nationwide mission designed to overcome internet cynicism with positive expressions of belief. We called on Americans of all ages to post photos, messages and videos with #SantaProject via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to show their support by expressing their belief.

We spread awareness of our mission in a variety of ways, starting with a national TV spot and long-form online video that highlighted the issue at hand through the eyes of children. It premiered during primetime family viewing of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Then, we seeded a research film that backed up the importance of childhood belief with first-person accounts from child psychology experts, making it clear that belief in Santa is highly correlated with several areas of cognitive development, including creativity, morality and independence.

The campaign’s momentum built throughout December, with people across America responding to our call alongside Macy’s store employees, local fire departments, marching bands, Youtube stars, mommy bloggers and several high-profile celebrities. Throughout that period, we supported the mission on all social channels by releasing 3-5 pieces of original, bite-sized content each day, all of which continued to encourage people to fill the internet with the magic of belief.

The campaign culminated with a compilation of our favorite responses that celebrated all the ways people around the world joined together to show their belief, and aired it on TV in the week before Christmas.


An incredible 73.4 million people interacted with the Santa Project. We received over 17,000 pieces of original content, from Mannequin Challenges to family photos to heartfelt stories.

People participated in every state across America. Schools challenged each other to take part. Everyone from Miss Piggy to the New Jersey Devils to IBM’s Watson got involved. But most importantly, our original mission is now complete. Today, if you ask Google “ Is Santa Real?” the first answer reads: Santa is a symbol of generosity and goodness. We couldn’t agree more.