Elf Yourself: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Campaign Ever?

By Sarah Beth Wiltse | Small Business

Elf Yourself: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Campaign Ever? image ElfYourself2012Elf Yourself: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Campaign Ever?If you’re looking for a great Christmas campaign to emulate, look no further than Elf Yourself, Office Max’s uber-popular campaign that originally launched in 2006. Let’s face it – who hasn’t spent hours laughing at this clever campaign? As one of the greatest Christmas marketing campaigns of all time, Elf Yourself incorporated a variety of unique, innovative elements in order to connect with its audience base.

Why It’s So Great

To put it simply, this marketing campaign put a human face on a huge retail chain. Office Max will now forever be linked with dancing Christmas elves, despite the fact that most of its products could easily be considered boring. The marketing team at Office Max clearly got super creative in order to put together this uber-successful campaign.

Launched in 2006, Elf Yourself has returned every year since then, allowing over half a billion people to “elf” themselves. Although this probably wasn’t the first campaign to let consumers upload photos of themselves to be inserted into a crazy picture or video, it certainly has become the most well-known version! With a blatant appeal to narcissistic consumers, Elf Yourself has just the right mixture of humor and fun that entices people to come back to it over and over again.

Although there have been plenty of campaigns that have imitated this concept, none has gained the same amount of popularity since the idea is no longer a novelty. However, Office Max has managed to turn this long running campaign into a continuous source of revenue thanks to apps, DVD’s, and merchandise.

Elf Lessons for Marketers

As you put together your Christmas marketing campaign, there are plenty of lessons to learn from Elf Yourself, including the following:

  1. Make your customers the stars. By allowing consumers to insert their faces into a marketing campaign, Office Max gave users a fun, interactive experience. Find a unique way to encourage user interaction so that your potential customers become more involved with your brand.

  2. Develop an annual tradition. Elf Yourself comes back with new updates every year! A great campaign should become a part of your audience’s annual holiday traditions.

  3. Don’t forget to consider conversions. Although dancing elves don’t really have anything to do with office supplies, Office Max still found a way to encourage conversions by including information on coupons and promos at the end of the videos.

  4. Make it shareable. Everyone wants to share a video of themselves reincarnated as a dancing elf! Social shares are gold for marketers and SEOs, so make it super simple for consumers to share your campaign.

  5. Think outside the box. Clearly, creativity is key to developing an outstanding campaign like Elf Yourself. Don’t be afraid to throw out crazy ideas – you never know, one of your crazy ideas might inspire the next great Christmas marketing campaign!

What is your best advice for creating an outstanding Christmas campaign like Elf Yourself? What other Christmas campaigns do you think are particularly effective?

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