Killer app: Howard Hunt helps put magic back into Christmas

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Monday 24 November 2014

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Keeping the magic of Christmas alive can be a challenge for any parent as children get older and more curious.


PrintWeek's very own letter from Santa

But the NSPCC’s Letter from Santa campaign helps out by allowing supporters to give a suggested donation of £5 to the charity to order a personalised letter for a child, from a selection of eight designs, which appears to have come direct from Santa. The donations help Childline and the NSPCC to offer support for children seeking help or to anyone who has concerns about a child.

What did the job entail?

The NSPCC, along with print and mail partner Howard Hunt Group and fulfilment company Valldata, began organising a front-end schedule in July. “That’s important because there are a huge number of variables within each of the eight letters,” said Howard Hunt account director Mark Folkard. As the holiday season approaches supporters can order letters by post or phone or use the NSPCC’s website to build and personalise the letter, with variables including name, address, age, gender and a friend or family member’s name. Valldata then captures the data, proofs it and then collates it into a print-ready file and sends it to Howard Hunt to be processed.

How was it produced?

Howard Hunt digitally prints the background image and variable text using a Xerox iGen 4 onto 140gsm uncoated paper. The firm will print up to 20,000 letters a day in the run-up to Christmas, with 320,000 orders anticipated in total. The A4 letters are folded to DL and inserted into themed envelopes using Buhrs kit.

What challenges were overcome?

“The challenges are all at the front end and ensuring that all the end-to-end testing prior to going live is done correctly,” said Folkard. And Howard Hunt has the capability to cope with any unforeseen increase in demand. “If the orders suddenly increase then we can upscale and use our second iGen 4 to increase production.”

What was the feedback?

“We’re really impressed with the quality of the print,” said NSPCC project manager Amy Banks. And the letters are always well received by supporters. “We often get people saying that receiving a letter made their child believe in Santa again if they’d been wobbling during the year. It’s amazing that we get to be a part of people’s Christmas.”

To request a letter, visit

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