Cannes Lions

Sensitive Santa

SIBLING, Millers Point / WESTFIELD / 2020

Case Film
Supporting Images
Supporting Images






The nationwide initiative of Sensitive Santa originated from a single piece of customer feedback. A customer visiting Westfield Woden in Canberra let Westfield know of the challenges she faced when visiting the shopping centre with her autistic son. The bright lights and noises would become overwhelming and upsetting for him.

Through conversations with this customer, Westfield Woden developed a Calm Room - somewhere where families could retreat for a moment of peace and calm, in between their shopping.

The Calm Room was embraced by the local community, and it soon became clear that a similarly calm experience when getting Santa Photos at Westfield be well received. The current photo experience of busy queues and an over-stimulating environment meant families with children with sensory processing challenges felt unable to take part in.

Westfield began working with Autism Spectrum Australia to find a way for all children to get their time with Santa.


The annual Santa photo is a cherished Christmas moment that Westfield helps families experience every year. However for children with sensory processing challenges, the music, lights and busy environment can be too much.

Westfield created a bespoke Santa experience specifically tailored for children with sensory processing challenges. It meant stripping away the ‘manic’ of Christmas - and just keeping the magic.

No crowds. No queues. No bright lights. No music. Not even any pressure in capturing a photo. Just kids getting time with Santa - on their own terms, and in their own time.

While Christmas is a time when most shopping centres are talking about how long they’re open, Westfield saw an opportunity to benefit their customers and the community while they were closed.


Every year our business challenge is to figure out how we can ‘go the extra mile’ to help our customers create a magical Christmas. One that is festive, easy, and as a result, it’s just that little bit merrier.

Creating Sensitive Sensitive became a new and tangible way to execute on going ‘the extra mile’, essentially exemplifying our creative platform of ‘Making Christmas Merrier’.

We wanted to innovate how we could make Christmas merrier for all of our customers, by creating new solutions for family minorities - namely children with sensitive needs.

This means completely transforming our Santa photography offering - its design, environment and importantly the actual experience.

In essence, it meant turning a closed shopping centre into a new way to interact with our customers.


In the lead up to Christmas, Westfield mandated that Sensitive Santa be a mandatory offering at every Westfield centre in Australia/New Zealand i.e. 41 centres.

Logistically, this meant they had to transform their standard Santa photo activation in the following ways:

-Working with Autism Spectrum Australia, Santas and staff were trained in how to interact with children with sensory processing challenges.

-Resources were increased and extended to facilitate photography sessions outside of regular business hours.

-Sessions were extended to allow more time for families, with pre-booked sessions made online to avoid waiting in a queue.

-Centre lights were dimmed and music was lowered.

- On-the-day consultation with parents to ensure each experience was tailored to meet the needs of their child.


-Sensitive Santa sessions sold out across Westfield’s 41 centres.

-Visitations to our Santa event web pages increased 25% YoY.

-After watching the video about Sensitive Santa, 74% of customers felt more positive towards Westfield.

-Despite relevance to the activation not being universal for all families (32%), likability was very high (81%).

-Online Santa Photo bookings increased 29%.

-Standard Santa Photography attendance increased 15%.

-2.5 million film views Youtube/social

-170 news/TV publications picked up the story

-Over 15 million international impressions.

We were able to shine a light on families with children with sensory processing challenges, and create a national conversation about how brands and businesses can embrace diversity and inclusivity.

“You truly gifted us something I thought we may never get as a family.”- Sandy Golder, Mum

Most importantly, Sensitive Santa enabled 755 children who would otherwise miss out, get the opportunity to spend time with Santa.

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