Cannes Lions

Santa, Baby

LUMEN APP, London / LUMEN / 2019

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Case Film
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Lumen, a dating app for the over 50s, launched in September 2018, and had to quickly establish its brand purpose to survive in the overcrowded online dating space. This meant grabbing the attention of the target consumer (the over 50s) and increasing awareness and affiliation ahead of the January rush of singles to dating sites (the busiest period of the year).

Audience research showed the over 50s feel misrepresented in the media and that brands often get them wrong. This is particularly poignant in the dating industry, where ‘dry and stale’ marketing, rife with cardigans and slippers, leaves the modern tech-savvy seniors feeling old beyond their years, leading to feelings of being unattractive and unwanted. Our strategy was to succeed where other brands failed, injecting the fun, vigour and sexiness back into senior dating to achieve our commercial objectives of generating brand awareness and immediate downloads.


December heralds the busiest period for online dating, with singles looking to find love in the new year. To ensure Lumen was front of mind at this crucial time, we focused on a 50+ Christmas icon – Santa – and reimagined him in a way that pushed back on the subtle ageism of over 50s marketing. We booked two sets of billboards, and covered them with

images of a 58 year old man - ‘the UK’s most attractive Santa’ - with photography so sexy that not only would it generate editorial coverage, but it would get banned, providing us with a follow up PR opportunity.

The photography celebrated the older male body, in an attractive yet natural and relatable way. The model was topless, but Santa-esque with white hair and beard, and red trousers. The caption simply read ‘Pull a cracker this Christmas” with the Lumen logo.


It was key we showed an understanding the over 50s where other brands have fallen short, empowering them by showing that you can be over 50 and fun and attractive.

While this would have been a successful advertising campaign, we didn’t have an advertising budget to play with. Able to afford just two media spaces, our strategy was to leverage these for earned media and create two PR opportunities.

The first debuted images of an attractive, middle-aged Santa, highlighting that even Father Christmas was an example of misrepresentation and show that Santa could be older and attractive. Meanwhile, the second billboard presented Santa in photography so risqué that it was designed to get banned, create a scandal and serve as a rallying call for support.

London was chosen as the location because of it’s likeliness to get picked up locally and globally, creating buzz ahead of Lumen’s international launches.


On launch day, we set the context for the campaign with research revealing that Santa was a sex symbol for 26% of the over 50s. This hit the media with images of our billboard (the ad images, and the billboard in situ), providing our first round of PR coverage with the news of Santa being sexy and over 50.

As planned, the ad was banned a few days later. Knowing that the media would be more likely to pick the story up organically, we used the London (TfL) hook to leak the story to the Evening Standard, who broke the story exclusively. The media reaction was almost instantaneous, generating widespread national and international coverage and going viral on social media with people lending their support to our campaign and condeming the ban.