Button/McLaren’s Santander ‘Secret Santa F1 Surprise’

The culmination of Santander’s ‘Secret Santa’ campaign saw the banking brand leverage its McLaren Mercedes F1 team sponsorship by delivering a fully fuelled surprise to the residents of driver Jensen Button’s home town of Frome.


The small Somerset town was expecting its favourite son Button to simply switch on its Christmas lights, but, after conducting the traditional switch-on, he then stunned residents with a secretly executed live F1 demonstration as he roared through the market town’s closed streets turning donuts and burn-outs in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes race car.



‘I’m amazed we managed to keep this quiet and surprise everybody – it has been weeks in the planning and as you know, we’re not very good at being quiet in F1,’ says Button who was born in Frome and attended the town’s Selwood Middle School.


‘But it has been great to be part of a huge undercover operation, especially to deliver something so unexpected to my hometown. And I’ve driven a Formula 1 car in some fairly exotic locations in my time but nothing felt more surreal than making lots of noise on the streets I used to kick around on when I was a kid here.’


Button’s surprise street drive was the culmination of a set of ‘surprise and delight’ appearances he made to launch Santander’s UK-wide ‘Secret Santa’ promotion – which provides customers with a chance to win seasonal prizes ranging from toys to hampers.


Button secret Xmas appearances included delivering children’s gifts at the Royal Bath Hospital, as well as astonishing a slew of unsuspecting Santander customers across the local area.


The wider Secret Santa initiative spans the bank’s UK branch network: running 5 to 12 December it awards one winner per branch.


Another strand of the festive activation sees Santander link with Hamleys and run a Facebook competition where 10 of those who ‘liked’ the brand’s page won one of Hamleys top 12 Christmas 2013 toys each day.


The financial outfit will also donate all the top 12 toys to one of our partner children’s charitie


‘It’s a special time of year and everyone has been so receptive to the surprises we have sprung on them today, which I guess is the spirit of Christmas in evidence!’ aadds Button.


‘Personally, I’ve had a great day and it’s been great fun to bring some festive cheer home.’




Brands across the world spent months planning blockbuster, multi-platform Chrstimas campaigns and Santander’s 2013 festive initiative combines its marketing silo strengths by neatly blending its key sponsorship property, major brand ambassador, and CSR projects, with a prize giveaway, a retail partnership and a digital engagement building exercise.


That may seem a lot of joined-up marketing, but, after all, it is Christmas!




McLaren F1 Campaign Website



Button Roars In Frome YouTube



Santander Facebook



Santander Twitter




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