There is nothing that unites large parts of the world like a holiday. The Dear Santa documentary film shines a light on that phenomenon, and more specifically the 108-year-old Operation Santa program run by the United States Postal Service (USPS). During the ANA Masters of Marketing conference, the film’s architects explained why it has been such a success, garnering eight Telly Awards and the Best Feature accolade at Tribeca X.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa arrive at post offices around the country. With Operation Santa, USPS makes it possible for “the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true,” explained Chris Karpenko, Executive Director, Brand Marketing at USPS. By “adopt,” he was referring to responses sent by various people and the thoughtful gifts they send to the letter writers.

Dear Santa warmly takes audiences on a magical journey of this ambitious endeavor of matching letters to members of the public who adopt particular letters. Criss-crossing the country, similar to how Santa travels on Christmas Eve, the film showcases certain Operation Santa centers: some in large metropolis cities like the herculean operation in New York City, and others in small country towns where the post office represents the heart of the community.

“The film shows letters where a child is asking for something poignant, something that goes beyond the common wish for a toy,” explained Brendan Gaul, Global Chief Content Officer at Mediabrands, who partnered with USPS on this film. For example, in one letter, a young boy asks if Santa loves gay people. That letter was adopted by a LGBTQ+ customer.

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