<img src="//pixel.quantserve.com/pixel/p-UyYbZUwgCRa8Y.gif?labels=_fp.event.Default" style="display: none;" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="Quantcast">

A 97-Degrees Holiday

Our team is getting in the holiday spirit. How about yours?

Here are some holiday tidbits about our favorite workmates (i.e. all of them).

Q: What is your favorite holiday food, and why? Who makes it?

Brooke Hummel, Account Supervisor:

Kitchen Sink Chocolate Caramel Apples. Doesn't sound like a holiday food, but my sister makes them every year. They're caramel and chocolate coated apples covered in every type of topping you can imagine. Candy, pretzels, nuts...you name it, she makes it. They're so delicious and I look forward to them every year.


Q: Share an unusual or especially memorable holiday experience.

Russ LeBlanc, Managing Director:

Well, there was the time that Santa called and needed my help.

So, I said: "Santa, doesn't Rudolph have a nose that glows?" And Santa replied that he did but what he needed wasn't a glowing nose. And then I asked: "Well Santa, don't you have a whole bunch of elves to help you?" And Santa replied that he did and all the toy production was in good shape.
Which really got me wondering what could I possibly do to help Santa out. So off I went. When I met with him he seemed a little depressed - he was having trouble finding out his ancestry. He had tried 23&Me, ancestry.com, and all the other usual places but no one could figure out his genealogy.
"Oh, Jolly Old St. Nick, that's so easy", I said. His eyes grew wide as he waited. "Santa, it's obvious ... you're North Polish!"


Image via Flikr


Q: Does your family have a holiday specific tradition? If so, what is it?

Cory Shaw, Visual Designer: 

Every Christmas Eve, we get together for a little family fun and healthy competition. Each year there's a different holiday theme – from decorating festive hats and socks, to swapping ornaments, to gifting based on classic songs, and solving a murder mystery! The festivities are a great way to get in the spirit of the season and express our creativity. Happy Ho Ho Holidays, everyone!


The Shaw Family Hat Competition, Christmas 2011.


Q: Share an unusual or especially memorable holiday experience.

Emma Casey, Senior Digital Manager:

When I was very little, instead of opening gifts, I repeatedly pointed to our living room window declaring, "Moo! Moo!" Since we don't have any moos (meaning cow), my parents were quite baffled and I'm sure continued to sip their coffee, thinking their child was quite insane.

Eventually when my parents looked over to the window, they noticed a cow was standing outside, staring at us. As we don't have any neighbors with cows, this was quite a mystery and remains one to this day – the ever elusive and curious, "Christmas Cow."

Christmas Cow.png

What a wonderfully created image of what a "Christmas Cow" might look like


Q: Do you have a favorite holiday advertising campaign?

Vera Fischer, CEO: 

This TxDOT campaign was developed here in Austin - the animator was the same animator that did the Christmas specials like "Santa Claus is coming to town."


Screenshot of the campaign,, which says "Don’t drive if you’re tipsy, buzzed or Blitzen. Call a cab or get a sober ride home."


Q: Does your family have a holiday specific tradition? If so, what is it?

Kim Castelluccio, Digital Media Supervisor:

Every year after our Thanksgiving meal, my family gets together to take our Christmas card picture. We will put up Christmas decorations to set the scene and gather the pets together in order to get the perfect shot. It's rare we're all in the same city - so we make the most of it!


The Castelluccio family Christmas card, December 2016. 


Q: Do you have a favorite holiday advertising campaign?

Clark Bystrom, Design Director: 

One of my favorite holiday campaigns really made a creative impression on me, well past the holiday. It’s a fact, Christmas really can sneak up on most everyone. Our busy lives leave little time, and sometimes little imagination for gift giving. A “Same-Day-Delivery or Faster” British retailer named Argos has positioned themselves to resolve this plight.



Christmas isn’t just about tearful moments and family hugs. It’s also about joy, excitement and a playful dollop of fun in the snow.

Argos used a team of 50 professional skiers and snowboarders to create an action-packed ad and stoke up festive anticipation. It was shot on a mountainside in Chile’s Valle Navado, known for its 6,000 peaks and vast stretches of treeless, off-piste terrain.

It also inspired my creative goal to imagine things that are full of life, and hopefully place me at the top of mountains.


Q: Share an unusual or especially memorable holiday experience.

Candice Brusuelas, Marketing Coordinator :

My parents and I went on a cruise for Christmas in 2010. 

We first went to Key West, where mom spent part of her childhood. My grandma owned a tourist gift shop for a short time before moving back to New Mexico. When we arrived in the morning we stood on the top deck and looked over the island. Mom was overcome with emotion.


Candice (right) and her parents in Key West, December 2010.

We had a fun time walking through the streets, visiting Hemingway's house (and playing with the six-toed cats), and looking in colorful storefronts. Mom couldn’t remember which shop grandma’s was, but we stopped in one and she bought grandma a delicate, blue-stoned starfish necklace. I thought it was beautiful.

On the last day back we hit turbulent waters and dad spent the day alternatively puking and sleeping. That was, and will be, his last cruise, he said.



Want To Know More About Our Team? Visit Our  About Us Page.

We define creativity as the art of solving a marketing and business problem. We are an agency which is built around the belief that if you combine creative talent and humanity, you can help companies make their products, services and brands relevant to the life of their customers. We look at technology as a tool and don’t confuse it with an idea.

Like what you read?

Subscribe to the blog to receive updates about:

  • Latest marketing trends
  • Marketing your business
  • Random creative thoughts.

Vera Fischer

By Vera Fischer

The visionary of 97 Degrees West for more than thirteen years, Vera has served as the CEO and President since 2004. During Vera’s tenure, the agency has achieved steady growth while surviving both economic recessions in Austin, Texas. Vera began her advertising career at GSD&M where she worked on accounts: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Houston Rockets, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Pearl Vision, SeaWorld and DoubleTree Hotels. Her next stop was the nationally recognized T3 known as “The Think Tank.” While at T3, Vera spearheaded the Dell Computers launch of the Preferred Accounts Division and lead national projects for the ESL and Enterprise Divisions. Other notable accounts included Quintiles Oncology, Austin Lyric Opera and St. David’s Hospital. In 2001, Vera left the agency world to embark on the client side as Director of Marketing for Forgent Networks, the software spin-off of VTEL video conferencing. Vera managed an annual multi-million dollar marketing budget, developed online lead generation programs, managed the inside sales team and consistently delivered high-quality MQLs to the sales team. In 2004, after a company wide re-org, Vera was laid off while on maternity leave. Within the day, she founded her agency, 97 Degrees West. Vera’s weekly podcast entitled, “System Execution”, launched in mid-2016 with notable guests like Ari Weinzweig, Jeff Smith, Gary Bizzo, Dr. Alan Pitt, and other business and thought leaders. Vera is the first woman to host a podcast devoted to systems and processes of successful companies. She is quickly becoming one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic of execution Vera is a member of the Austin University Area Rotary Club, an advisory board member for the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Texas State University and a Mentor at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. Vera is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communications at Texas State University in May 2018.