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The holiday shopping frenzy is on, which means it's time to stock up on all your gift-giving needs at...OfficeMax?! Strange but true, according to a new online campaign for the office supply superstore. To spread the word about OfficeMax's hidden treasure trove of holiday gift options, agency Toy tapped eight different interactive agencies to create no less than twenty "gifts" in the form of fun holiday websites, all linked by the familiar yellow OfficeMax tab. "Yeah, making twenty websites is a little crazy—but so is the idea of getting people to shop for holiday gifts at an office store," laughs Toy executive creative director Ari Merkin. "We just wanted to get on the radar and make that holiday connection with people. The sites weren't a smaller piece of a larger campaign, they are the campaign. There's no traditional media supporting this. If you roll over the OfficeMax tab, there are links to take you to each of the sites. This way they can all support each other. It's a new kind of interactive campaign, and a bit of an experiment."
Each individual site features one simple yet endlessly entertaining mini-game or experience, whether it be arm-wrestling with a reindeer, watching hidden camera footage in "You Got Elfed" or choreographing Santa's dance moves with "North Pole Dancing." "We played off of the usual holiday icons: elves, Santa, reindeer, that kid stuck to a pole," says Merkin. "Luckily, there's no shortage of holiday fodder. But we had to be honest with ourselves about what we thought people would and wouldn't send to each other—the sites had to be a far better alternative to a lame-ass e-card. Once we had ideas we were happy with, we did conference calls with twelve different interactive companies, and then divided the production between eight of them."
As for which site tops Merkin's personal list of favorites? "YoDreidel.com, of course, though we never got a chance to produce it because it was a bit too edgy," laughs Merkin. "I'll spare you the details."