And so OfficeMax is bringing back its viral-video hit promotion "Elf Yourself" for the third year, this time in partnership with JibJab, a digital entertainment company with extensive experience and technology in the replace-your-face video genre.
"The one thing that people wanted was to be able to save their elves, to download them and send them and create other things with the elves," said Bob Thacker, OfficeMax senior VP-marketing.
They grow on you
They also wanted them back -- 95% of last year's elf-watchers said they wanted the promotion to return, Mr. Thacker said.
With JibJab's technology, the elves that consumers put their own -- and family and friends' -- faces on can now be downloaded, e-mailed, posted and embedded in web pages. There are four dance videos -- disco, country, Charleston and classic -- which can accept five different faces. A one-time upload puts the five faces into all four dances. Also new this year is the ability to put the personalized elves on mugs, mouse pads, greeting cards and ornaments for purchase.
And the potential for a lot of elf-ing this year is huge. Last year, 123 million elves were created, and the ElfYourself.com website recorded 193 million unique visitors in 2007, up from 36 million in 2006.
Up and running
Gregg Spiridellis, JibJab CEO and co-founder, said in just the first four days since launching ElfYourself.com, traffic is already tracking higher than last year.
The two companies began talking in February after Mr. Spiridellis initiated contact after noting that ComScore ranked OfficeMax as the No. 1 fastest-growing website in December -- and ranked JibJab as No. 2.
"It was created as, and continues to be, an enhancement to our brand," Mr. Thacker said. "It shows our human side and brings a smile to people's faces. ... It's really meant to differentiate us as a company that's not afraid to have a little fun, and lift people's spirits a little in a time when maybe they need a lift."
The encouraging news for OfficeMax is that many people make the elf-to-Office connection in recall research. Last year, 40% of the visitors remembered the videos were brought to them by OfficeMax, and 63% of people who most frequently shopped for office products remembered it was OfficeMax.
JibJab did a similar, and successful, snowball-throwing-elves promotion last year sponsored by Pepsi, and has also created personalize-able videos for Disney's movie "High School Musical 3." JibJab is also known for its political lampoon videos, including the popular "Time for Some Campaignin' " that included a spot for viewers' own faces this past election season.