• Sarah Bhatt

I Dare You, Santa

Let’s talk about one of my favorite brands: Sun Bum. Heard of ‘em? The sunscreen brand with the cute little ape logo and its trademark banana-yellow color on every bottle? That’s the one.

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Not only are its products amazing — and no, this is not an ad — but it’s also killing the content game on social media. Just look up @sunbum on Instagram; its page is covered with bright, cheery photos of happy beach-goers, puppies, huge waves and a handful of encouraging quotes. Almost every post has at least a hint of yellow or blue, making for those perfect summer vibes. Just from glancing at Sun Bum’s social media account, you get a pretty good idea of what the company stands for. It’s a relaxed, simple brand that cares about its customers and produces products to protect them from the sun.

Last Wednesday, on December 9th, Sun Bum posted this video to their Instagram and YouTube accounts. It features one of Sun Bum’s employees posing as “East Pole” Santa — flowing grey beard and all — cozied up by a Christmas tree. He starts off the video with “Hey, man,” as he glances up at the camera. Santa sets aside his Rubik’s Cube, then proceeds to talk about how he’s been working so hard during quarantine. Sun Bum’s caption-writers, on the other hand, explain the situation a little differently:

“The North Pole Santa has been working like a dog throughout the pandemic to ensure all the boys and girls get their toys this Christmas. 🎄That said, East Pole Santa has had a little less hectic year with most events being cancelled due to the virus and “working” from home or at our Cocoa Beach “office”/surf shack. So, the Grinches (bosses) at Sun Bum decided to give him a little somethin’ to keep him busy during the holidays and to lift everyone’s spirit a bit. It’s called, Dare Santa. 🎅🏼”

Dare Santa is a challenge campaign. But here’s the catch — Sun Bum’s audience isn’t being challenged. Santa is.

The rules are simple. Sun Bum’s social media followers comment their dares underneath the video. Sun Bum will pick a couple dares for Santa to complete, and whoever wrote those dares will be sent a “nice little Christmas gift.” My guess is it’s a box of free sunscreen. Lucky them.

“Challenge” PR campaigns aren’t hard to come by. In fact, some of the best campaigns we’ve seen have been challenges. Take a look at the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge,” for example. At one point in 2014, everyone’s mom, cousin and best friend were dumping a bucket of ice-cold water on their heads to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Seventeen million people accepted the viral challenge, raising over $115 million for ALS research and community aid. There’s plenty of debate in the communications world about what makes content go viral, but the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was undoubtedly fun to participate in.

Fun — now that’s a crucial element to consider when creating a challenge campaign. No one’s going to participate in a challenge that’s boring.

Let’s be honest, 2020 was the worst year ever. Well, maybe not ever, but it was still pretty bad. That’s why people have been turning to the media to combat the onslaught of discouraging news they’ve been faced with. One recent study found that, in 2020, Americans have been gravitating towards positive, feel-good content (specifically short-form videos) on social media to boost their moods. The study also found that people are more likely to share content that is interesting, funny, relatable or helpful.

Sun Bum’s “Dare Santa” campaign checks all these boxes. Not only is it interesting and funny, it’s positive and fun. Each dare video Sun Bum has posted — from Santa giving away $100 to five strangers to going surfing while eating a plate of cookies — is an instant mood booster.

Here’s the big takeaway: Whether you’re conducting a “challenge” campaign or just looking for new content to share on your social media platforms, make it fun! We could all use a little bit of holiday cheer to finish out this not-so-jolly year.

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