Ok, I can't take it anymore. What is it with these office supply companies and their ability to create marketing juggernauts that every other client in America wants emulated? The next Easy Button, the next ElfYourself, the next...
Wait. That last one. ElfYourself. Let's look at that.
First, credit where credit is due: The site has been rightly equated with a pop culture phenomenon:
- The hottest holiday greeting Web site two years in a row
- Roughly 100 million visitors created elves. (Including my DAD!)
- And, the site helped OfficeMax win nearly half of the December traffic to consumer goods sites.
No question, the site has been a runaway success for OfficeMax and agency creators Toy and EVB. But that's not the full story:
- First up, this was not just a random great idea from some creatives loopy on spray glue fumes. It was a the winner of a very well-funded test of over 20 holiday sites - each of which was intended to be viral. (That level of upfront investment would make most marketers cringe!) A few examples of the OfficeMax sites you may not have heard of:
- Reindeer Arm Wrestling
- Roast A Turkey
- Greetings from the North Pole
- Shake the Globe
- Yes I'm Working
- Save the Snowman
- Faux Charity Donation Generator
- North Pole Dancing
- Second, it didn't magically go viral. OfficeMax (and/or Toy) has a strong understanding of how to pounce on an opportunity. They took early adopter posts on Flickr, Digg and Facebook and leveraged them into a PR pitch that landed spokespeople on Letterman, The Today Show and others. From there, they juggernaut ... well, juggered. Mainstream media coverage included USA Today, ABC World News Now, CNN American Morning, CBS Early Morning, and US Weekly's "Buzz-O-Meter." Online, nearly half a million pages reference the site.
- Finally, let's wait and see the results. Buzz is OfficeMax had a tough fourth quarter. Despite 120 million ElfYourself.com visitors having spent the equivalent of more than 1,500 years with the brand.