Dawson Walker is 25
This year we've made our own special Advent calendar to celebrate 25 years of Dawson Walker Communications.
We hope you enjoy the glimpses into the past that we're sharing.
Day 1 - 1996/97
According to Wikipedia the Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was back in 1996, the year that Dolly the sheep was cloned, that Dawson Fairey Communications (now trading as Dawson Walker Communications) was founded - our pioneering clients were RBS, Gowrings, Comdex and 2 Temple Gardens and we had offices in Berkhamstead.
The following year we moved to Chesham and we took Mercedes Rental and the brand new A class to the fashion catwalk at the invigorating mega Mela at the NEC. It was in 1997 that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fell in love in James Cameron's movie aboard the ill-fated Titanic. Thanks to: first employee, Sarah Bates, for getting us off to a great start.
Day 2 - 1998/99
It is believed that the first Advent calendar was hand-made in 1851 - sadly no chocs in this prototype. It was in 1998 that Daniel Walker joined and added his name to the brand. New clients like Hyperchannel were helping to extend our boundaries as we started to build and cherish close relationships with European and Malaysian network partners.
Despite the anxiety in anticipation of the Millennium bug, 1999 is actually better known as the year that Ralph hit his first hole in one! It was also the year for a game of polo with Jodie Kidd sponsored by Mercedes Rental. The agency were delighted to welcome newcomers: Daniel Walker and Samantha Stevens
Day 3 - 2000
The first chocs were added to Advent calendars in the 1950s - up until then pictures and poems were exciting enough treats. It's the year of the Millennium, thankfully the bug remained dormant and the AS400 powered up as normal. In London two new riverside features appeared - the Dome and the London Eye.
Still rubbing shoulders with the stars saw us developing the new brand and corporate sponsorship for scat jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine and Sir Jonny Dankworth's theatre "The Stables" in downtown Milton Keynes - with the help of Sir Michael Parkinson. And whilst we're name dropping in the same year actress Patsy Kensit took a lead role in our PR campaign for Moves. It was in 2000 that Sarah Burry joined the team
Day 4 - 2001
Back in the day Advent lasted much longer - from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day. Despite being a year most remembered for the terrorist attacks on America, 2001 is also the year that the world's first self-contained artificial heart is implanted.
We were busy with Daimler Chrysler on a Car Fleet Management treasure trail at Hampton Court and having worked with three famous Knights of the realm in 2000 we were delighted that HRH The Princess Royal supported our work with mobility company Gowrings at the opening of their new facility in Newbury. It was in 2001 that we welcomed Sarah Walton to the team.
Day 5 - 2002
The word ‘Advent’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘coming’. In 2002 Dawson Walker moved to Fitzroy Street - the Robert Adam designed London townhouse that has been our workplace until WFH began in March 2020. Our work with Shell Auto Finance took us to Cameron House on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond for a day of adventures as part of the UK dealer recruitment programme.
We celebrated St George's Day (23 April) with the official opening of St George's House with Daimler Chrysler Fleet Management and a Chinese dragon (that of course lived to breath fire another day). Although the Euro existed in the financial markets since 1999 it wasn't until 2002 that the first notes and coins were used by participating countries. In 2002 we welcomed Danny Brace into the fold.
Day 6 -2003
The first mass produced Advent calendar was created in 1908 by Gerhard Lang who worked at the Reichhold & Lang printing office in Munich, Germany. In 2003 we enjoyed a Diamond breakfast at the Ritz with Clearblue - to celebrate the launch of the first digital pregnancy test and our competition winner Agnes was delighted with her 1 carat diamond prize. In the same year we established our partnership with MJ Corp - our first partner in USA.
And to mark the launch of Linq Alliance @Chris Sturman pulled a truck with a little help from his friends. 2003 marked the last flight of the supersonic Concorde - possibly the most beautiful aeroplane ever built. In the same year we were delighted that Ricci Gowland and Chris Herriott joined the tribe.
Day 7 - 2004
Before the invention of the Advent calendars that we recognise today, people made chalk marks on the doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas. 2004 is the year that FaceBook was founded - and back then who would have believed that it would attract billions of members worldwide?
It was also the year that we built some new long lasting relationships with brilliant partners in India with @Disha and @Leverage; and in Malaysia with @Thumb print @Hunters and @EPAPR. Meanwhile at the Business Design Centre in Islington we were responsible for the PR for the Mac Expo enabling eager customers to listen to the brand new iPod with an amazing 4GB of storage (whilst they made new FB friends).
Day 8 - 2005
Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited for popularising the Advent calendar tradition in the United States. Our work with Shell in 2005 continued to extend our global reach and the start of a brilliant relationship with new partners in the US and TMH in Dubai.
We also travelled to Langakawi to start our amazing journey on the Shell student business challenge "Gourami". It was also the year for the scorchingly hot Clear Blue Caribbean Carnival in Bedford. In 2005 You Tube was founded on Valentines Day - the first video was called "Me at the zoo". This year we were joined by Jo Tyler, Nicola Camell, Krista Hamblin and Lisa Boothroyd.
Day 9 - 2006
The fastest time set to eat the chocolates from an advent calendar was recoreded in New York in 2017 when Kevin Strahle achieved the feat in 1 minute 27 seconds (GWR).
In 2006 Twitter was founded - Jack Dorsey's first tweet read: "just setting up my twttr." It was also the year that we took a team of free runners (rnnrs) on campus for Shell as part of their graduate recruitment marketing programme. And in Port Dickson, Malaysia we helped to organise and manage a conference along with a fun-packed team building event for Shell's A&R SE Asia Region - our newspaper modelled versions of KL's 421m tower went a bit soggy in the tropical rain. New joiners in 2006 were: Emma Brown /Rob Smith /Renee Dodds /Meriel Crawford/Sarah Tille.
Day 10 - 2007
Back in 2007 a group of nanotech specialists in Germany got into the Christmas spirit by making the smallest ever Advent calendar. It would take about five million of the miniature calendars to cover a postage stamp.
Drawing upon the theatrical staging "in the round" we designed and managed Shell's 2007 HR conference in the Hague. The iPhone launched in 2007 was the first handheld device to combine a multimedia player, telephone, and internet browsing capability on a touchscreen display. It's now Apple's biggest selling product. And joining us in 2007 were: Helen Barnshaw and Nadia Barnes.
Day 11 - 2008
In the quaint town of Gengenbach in Baden-Württemberg, located in the storybook Black Forest, the entire rathaus (Town Hall) is transformed into the world's largest Advent Calendar House.
2008 saw the inception of Airbus Fly Your Ideas - a global student challenge that in its foundation edition was focused on a more sustainable aerospace industry. We also established relationships with key partners in France @WAT, @From File to Factory, in Germany @Koenigsteiner, @Davinci and in Spain @Ulises. Whilst in the Middle East we ran a diversity & inclusion campaign for Shell and in the same year we worked with JWT on the Shell Geopursuit programe - the toughest online adventure game on Google earth. It was the year Airbnb was founded - originally known as AirBedandBreakfast.com - named thus because the founders came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into a bed and breakfast. In 2008 we welcomed: Delphine Horodyski, Teri Farrel, Kerry Bovich, Alice Jones, Katie Spaits, Chantelle Street and Alice Jones
Day 12 - 2009
Traditional Advent calendars are rectangular cards or boxes you can hang on the wall or sit on a table with small sealed doors or windows meant to be opened in order on each day of Advent.
In 2009 we prepared our first (of many) EADS, now known as Airbus Group, Global Media Plans. With a need to attract people from around the world to a growing operation this was a complex and interesting brief - especially when you overlay the rarity of specialist engineers EADS wanted to hire. We were also delighted to be on the team with some brilliant agency partners to help Shell Recruitment win a very special Marketing Society Award. In 2009 Uber was launched - famous for being the largest private hire taxi company that doesn't own any vehicles. Joining the team in 2009 included Merial Crawford and Jazmin Beale
Day 13 - 2010
One of the most indulgent Advent calendars surely has to be the Porsche Design 1.75m, $1m brushed aluminium extravagance of 2010 - that featured a yacht behind one of its luxury windows!
In 2010 we celebrated the Chinese New Year with Shell to promote their grauduate programme and received a commendation from the RADs for our efforts. It was in this year that the bunting was first hung up for the Great British Bake-off - the winner was Edward "Edd" Kimber from Bradford who has since pursued a broadcasting and writing career focused on his passion for baking. Our new joiners in 2010 were... Leanne Murray/Chris Skinner/Rachel Horton.
Day 14 - 2011
The first LEGO Advent calendar (1298 Basic Advent Calendar) was produced in 1998 and featured a seaplane, a mouse and two Santas among its 24 surprises.
It was in 2011 that we supported Shell to attract Chinese nationals back to China for engineering jobs. It's thought the first touch screen was invented by Eric Johnson in 1965, we put the technology to brilliant use for the Shell Hubs on-campus graduate recruitment programme. We also launched the "Love Airbus" employer brand - no doubt helping them to attract applications from passionate individuals. It was in 2011 that Game of Thrones premiered - soon to become a cultural phenomenon. We were thrilled to be joined by Yasmin Reid.
Day 15 - 2012
In 2012 (to report on the Olympics), the Guardian produced a summer Advent calendar throughout the month of August.
2012 was a busy year: with Airbus visiting Turin to attract Stress Engineers and in the same year we launched a new careers website for them. We promoted the amazing Adrenalin event featuring Equicirque and spent a couple of days with Welsh Housing association Tai Calon reviewing their internal communications strategy. In India we "High Fived" the RBS employee referral programme. The Queen was parachuted into the opening ceremony of the London Olympics - that ran even more smoothly with Ralph's hard work as a Games Maker. The same year we welcomed Adam, Amelia Harrington, Andrew Southcott and Samantha Rosen.
Day 16 - 2013
The Blue Peter Advent crown was first made by Christopher Trace in 1965 - it can be replicated with wire coat hangers, tinsel and candles (keep a fire extinguisher nearby).
We established a partnership with Capita in 2013 and jointly pitched for Ofgem - the energy regulator for Great Britain - we've enjoyed working with them ever since. That same year Airbus FYI finalists met in Toulouse and then we took them to UNESCO's HQ in Paris for the announcement of the winners - Team Levar from Brazil. In England, Scotland and Wales The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, was passed on 17 July 2013, and the first marriages of same sex couples took place on Saturday 29 March 2014. It was in 2013 that we were delighted to welcome Joanna and Marie.
Day 17 - 2014
In 2014 Teletext40 launched their Advent calendar - celebrating Teletext art. Dan Farrimond, Teletext Artist, described it as the blockiest, most pixellated pseudo-chocs of dubious dusty taste. https://www.flickr.com/photos/danfarrimond/albums/72157662513025251
It was in 2014 that we founded Sparkling Blue (a brand focused on innovation) with our French partners Stéphane Cornec, Benoist Véret and Frédéric Tavéra. We started to explore the transformative power of art with Steve Mottershead and The Cornelius Arts Foundation. Shell Ideas 360 a global student challenge was first launched and we took DSV, FSDF, Eurotunnel and Zetes to MultiModal UK - Europe's biggest logistics conference. And in 2014 Pharell Williams made us Happy, Happy, Happy.
Day 18 - 2015
The largest Advent calendar is 71 m (232 ft 11 in) high and 23 m (75 ft 5 in) wide and was built at St Pancras station, London, UK, to commemorate the station's refurbishment in December 2007.
Back to our history now, in 2015 we worked in partnership with Pertemps Managed Solutions to hire graduates into Tata Steel - enjoying an awe-inspiring visit to the works in Port Talbot - where everything is XXL! With some digital wizardry we created a marketing portal for the British Army, Be The Best, and to continue the theme of security we devised and ran a customer survey for Securitas. And it was in 2015 that Jo met Theresa at Airbus FYI final in Hamburg - it took another 5 years to persuade Theresa to join us! NASA discovered life on Mars was sustainable when Curiosity Rover discovered flowing water on the red planet.
Day 19 - 2016
We are not certain when the first Advent calendar with drinks was produced, but we do know that @Cadbury created their first choc filled delight in 1971.
It was in 2016 that we developed a global research programme for Diageo to discover what makes that brand of brands an employer of choice. We were delighted to join our good friends at Hedron to run our version of the Generation Game - exploring how different generations in the workplace respond to communications. We created an enlightening mailer for Zetes that included an encoded message that could only be read using the branded UV torch supplied and we welcomed logistics delegates from around the world to the Transfrioroute AGM - a packed agenda that included live audio translations, a flight on the London Eye, a dinner at the Globe and a bomb scare at the Natural History Museum! 2016 will also go down in history for the year that the US public chose Donald Trump and the UK chose Brexit. In 2016 Alex Whitton and Rebecca Lain joined the ranks.
Day 20 - 2017
The 1950s was an important decade for festive activities as it saw the first mass wave of working-class affluence in many countries and parents wanted to give their children what they had never had. Spending on Christmas presents rose dramatically and traditions such as Advent calendars became increasingly popular.
In 2017 we embarked upon a graduate attraction campaign for Rio Tinto - co-ordinating a partner network in North America @Bayard and @Day Comms in Canada. We worked with First Group to develop an EVP framework and toolkit for their global brands and made a brace of videos for our friends at Zetes who needed them for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In July, the England women's team won the Cricket World Cup.
Day 21 - 2018
Advent calendars have become crazily diverse since their more humble beginnings - now with a huge variety of surprises behind those countdown windows. Perhaps the most unusual we have found this year is the Haynes Retro Radio Calendar that each day "gives" a new part for your home built working radio. Unsurprisingly it requires two AA batteries (not included).
It was in 2018 that the infamous L&Q yellow chair was first sat on for this highly successful suite of employee profile films - the chair found itself in some unusual locations: on the roof of a construction site, in the middle of a field and inside a lift to name a few. We were delighted to start on our adventure with Neopost (now known as Quadient) in the UK at first, now globally. We managed Nav Blue's Sales Conferences and supported JK Rowling's charity Lumos with our recruitment marketing expertise. We started on our award winning journey with Philip Morris International as they head for a smoke-free future and as part of that experience developed some new brilliant partnerships with @Pulpo in Argentina and @Action Global in Turkey. Meghan married Harry in 2018 and the Simpson's celebrated their 636th episode - thus becoming the longest running primetime series. We welcomed Ollie Puffett, Millie Philpott and Aisha Bushell to the team.
Day 22 - 2019
Advent calendars are not just for humans - our pets also can enjoy an extra daily treat in the lead up to Christmas. This year's Skipper's calendar is described as a countdown to "Fishmas" and includes: fish skin cubes, luxury white fish cubes and salmon supremes (yum).
In 2019 we started developing a concept to bring to life Philip Morris International's EVP - this was the birth of #MakeHistory - an employer brand that is at the heart of a business transformation to achieve a smoke-free future. We produced a film for Cubiks (now known as PSI) to promote their Inclusive Leadership solution. We worked in partnership with our good friends WDAD to research and iterate the Tata Consultancy Services Employee Value Proposition and we just beat COVID for the in-person interviews! In 2019 Chinese probe Change 4 becomes the first artificial object to land on the far side of the Moon, 45 years after Pink Floyd released "The Dark Side of the Moon" often featured on professional listings of the greatest albums of all time. In 2019 Aysha Begum and Hannah Hawley Headlam joined the team in Fitzroy Street.
Day 23 - 2020
As we keep in mind the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) 2021 has seen a dramatic rise in popularity for wooden advent calendars that can be used again and again - just replenish the gifts.
In 2020 we started to learn about COVID-19 and the terrible consequences of the pandemic and unfortunately it and its ugly variants are still rife. On March 16 we started working from home and 20 months later we're in the same boat. We've adapted well and during 2020 delivered the Impact by McLean website, launched the Quadient EVP, won an award for ACT's Not the Annual Dinner virtual event, started to #MakeHistory with PMI, ran a 4 day virtual conference for Treasurers and raised funds for NHS with the guess the number of corks competition (Ralph & Jill had somehow collected quite a few). In 2020 we were delighted that Theresa Mulholland joined us.
Day 24 - 2021
The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays. So today we complete our Advent calendar, our own special version to celebrate 25 years of Dawson Walker Communications. We hope you enjoyed the glimpses into the past that we've been sharing through December 2021.
In 2021 we continued to WFH and explored the future of agile working. We set out on a meaningful EVP journey with HUC and along the way created attraction campaigns for Clinical Advisors and 111 Call Handlers. We were delighted to win two EBMA Awards and a Personnel Today Award for our employer brand work with PMI. We ventured into the world of a sparkling luxury brand, helped to run a COP26 hybrid event and immersed ourselves in the promotions for the 2022 Clean & Tidy Home Show. Finally we like this world news snippet from 2021: the city of Seville in Spain is planning to turn wasted oranges into electricity - aiming to eventually generate power for 73,000 homes - a new kind of orange juice! During 2021 we welcomed into our fold: Kayleigh Jackson.
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