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September 13, 2011

The Elfyourself,com campaign from OfficeMax quickly became a viral phenomenon, not only did the campaign sweep across all social media, but media impressions increased and it accomplished the ultimate marketing goal, a steady increase in sales, both online and in-store. Elfyourself was an extremely effective campaign in all aspects.

Beginning in the 2007 holiday season, Office Max and Toy collaborated to develop a holiday viral marketing campaign. is an interactive website that allows users to upload pictures of themselves, their friends, their family members and much more and put them on funny, energetic dancing holiday elves. After creating the dancing elves, visitors can then send the videos through a holiday greeting e-cards, Facebook, Youtube, blogs and much more. Personally, I stumbled upon the campaign through Facebook and after falling off my chair from laughing, I climbed back up and began my own “elfmorphosis” with my friends and I.

Recommendation/ assessment
After examining numerous viral campaigns, Elfyourself stood out to me, not only for my personal connection with the campaign, but also due to the extraordinary results. Some trends from Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin that can be seen in this campaign are (1) need for an authentic story as the number of sources increases (2) extremely short attention spans due to clutter – short commercials, short ideas (3) infinite channels of communication (4) amplification of the voice of the consumer – social media. An improvement for the campaign would be to develop a similar interactive activity like Elfyourself for another time of the year (such as Thanksgiving or summer) to continue the trend across social media and to increase sales.

Since 2007, there have been over 400 million elves dancing across the Internet with an estimated 200 million to be created in the 2011 holiday season. Accumulatively, visitors have spent a total of 6,662 years on the site and OfficeMax has since seen a 190% increase in online traffic. Although time spent on a web site and online traffic can be one way of measuring effectiveness, the more important measurement for a marketing campaign is sales.

Elfyourself brought a steady increase in online and in-store sales, 1/3rd of in-store sales claiming the Elfyourself influenced them to go into the store. Another form of measurement is media impressions, from 2007 to 2009, 110 media impressions were recorded, from news, to talk even sports media featured the Elfyourself phenomenon.

  • “What’s new?” – a holiday marketing campaign can often be trumped by the Macy’s, Best Buys and Walmarts, yet OfficeMax brought something unique, unexpected and memorable.
  • “What’s in it for me?” – although visitors did not receive any incentives, the interactive web site was cute, funny and personal.
  • “What’s your take on this?” – it inspires the visitor to feel the holiday spirit, have fun and spread the joy.
  • “What is the story?” – the Elfyourself was seen everywhere during holiday season, whether online or television and was so unique, it was memorable.
  • “What’s next?” – this is one area OfficeMax is lacking in, it only offers this activity during the holiday season. Although the interactive part of the campaign is limited to just one season, many have continued their support past the holidays and have even created “Mob Flashes” of all elves.
  • “What to do to infect others?” – like a virus, Elfyourself was easily transferrable through email or social sites.
  • “What’s free for all?” – Elfyourself was available to anyone with a computer and didn’t cost anything or require registration.

Overall this campaign was not only effective, it blew all the other campaigns out of the water. Elfyourself was a viral campaign that not only spread the OfficeMax brand, but spread a campaign that was unique, fun, funny, interactive and spread the holiday spirit through television news, Youtube, Facebook, blogs, flash mobs and through word of mouth. And again, as if the 416 million elves that danced their ways through televisions and computers weren’t enough measurement of the campaign’s effectiveness, the increase in media impressions and sales (both online and in-store) were a accurate indication of the campaigns results. Now when a person thinks of Elfyourself, 47% think about OfficeMax. Now that’s what I call a great campaign!

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