The Cana­di­an Lung Asso­ci­a­tion: San­ta Door Drop

Exhibited by
Steve Thomas
January 30, 2020
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

It’s the simplicity of this door drop that really makes it a hit. And a Canadian classic no less! By recreating the ruddy cheeks, red garb and big beard of the classic Coca-Cola Santa, Steve and Ross gave donors something familiar and fun to latch onto. With a simple message, neat design and options in terms of gift amount, The Lung Association made a clear and concise ask. They honed in on their core message in a way that donors could really relate to and engage with. 

Summary / objectives

This letter from ‘Santa’ was a door drop campaign created to acquire new donors for The Lung Association in Canada. Embodying the spirit of Saint Nick himself, they aimed to recruit new supporters to the charity who wanted to help Canadians with breathing difficulties.


By 2002, acquisition of new donors for The Lung Association had flat lined. A new approach was needed, so Ross Reid brought me (Steve Thomas) in to come up with a new strategy to bring donors into the fold.

Creator / originator

Steve Thomas (Stephen Thomas Ltd/ST) and Ross Reid of The Lung Association

John Lepp (art direction/creative) and Mike Rooth (illustration)

Special characteristics

You could be forgiven for deciding that the Santa at the top of the letter looks a bit (okay, a lot) like the Coca-Cola one. That’s because we deliberately went for a familiar and much-loved look: the bushy white beard, red hat and shiny cheeks, to draw the attention of prospective donors.

Once inside, Santa told the donor how he'd given up his trusty pipe and stopped smoking for good! But then, he noticed air pollution taking its toll on his reindeer and elves too. 

So naturally, Santa had started giving to The Lung Association, because it was one gift he couldn't count on his elves making in their workshop. And when he asked the donor to show their support too, he gave them an option to give whatever they could manage. Of course, nobody wants to get on Santa's naughty list, so really it's an ask few people would dare to refuse. 

Influence / impact

The first deliveries of this door drop went out in Ontario, but the letter was subsequently rolled out to English-speaking households all across Canada. This continued for a substantial number of years due to the success of the campaign.


With very modest postage costs and huge mailing runs (sometimes in the millions), the results of the door drop were remarkable, with an increase in new donors of around two per cent. This has enshrined The Lung Association's Santa campaign as a Canadian classic.

A beaming Santa Claus was an immediate eye-catcher on the envelope.
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Donors were offered the chance to donate $25, $35, $50 or whatever they could spare.
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The Santa imagery carried throughout the pack.