Case study: OfficeMax creates powerful tradition, Elf Yourself


Office Max may not seem like a “hot prospect” for anything social. It’s an office supply store, how interesting or engaging can it really be? In 2006, OfficeMax and JibJab Media Inc. launched a virtual holiday card which plugs users face’s into a hilarious dance number. Office Max sought out a deeper connection with their users. With Elf Yourself they connected with their audience in a way many brand’s only dream of-  Elf Yourself became a holiday tradition. The application allows users to share their virtual holiday card with their Facebook friends via Facebook Connect. Elf Yourself and Office Max enjoy skyrocketing annual engagement with fans, as well as acclaim in the marketing sphere. Elf Yourself is #7 on Hub Spot’s Top 10 most Remarkable Campaigns Ever, as well as a number of write-ups, which include a PR Newswire piece.

Here’s an example of the video.

As a whole, OfficeMax seems to invest wisely in their social platforms. Their Facebook presence, which is the primary vehicle for Elf Yourself, is clean with a pretty good engagement. Their stat line reads: 337,455 likes · 335 talking about this · 20,958 were here, which is a fairly large community. As of Saturday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m., they’ve posted twice on Facebook, both including graphics pertaining to the post, which shows they likely had this content planned ahead of time. The more engaging post of the day is a tribute to National Firefighters’ day. It tallied up 62 liked accompanied by 51 shares. Unfortunately no comments were made on the post, a common theme, which might be a weakness of their Facebook content.


Since its launch in 2006, there have been over half a billion shares, according to Hub Spot. The success of Elf Yourself is not a mystery. There are some key factors that make this campaign relevant and meaningful for their audience, and in turn, is successful year after year. First, it brings the audience into the picture (video, actually). The connection becomes personal and everyone connects in their own way. Second, it leverages a classic tradition utilizing modern technology. Let’s face it, Christmas cards are a hassle  and can get expensive. Elf Yourself provides a perfect, free option for people sick and tired of sending physical cards. The customization technology is brilliant, but might go unnoticed without the integration of Facebook Connect, which allows users to share with their Facebook community. Finally, it’s whimsical and hilarious. One of the most engaging things a brand can do is make someone laugh. Elf Yourself provides a variety of dance routines to connect with all types of people. Some include: hip hop, the Charleston, and contemporary jazz. With Elf Yourself, OfficeMax has become part of their audience’s lives by providing valuable content to engage with and share.

Here’s an example of the technology and how it works.


During this case study, I learned that even brands that seem dry can find ways to engage like superstars. I learned how powerful customization can be, especially if utilized in the correct ways. For example, this campaign probably wouldn’t be the same without the humor, ability to share and Christmas tradition it brings to the table.


One thought on “Case study: OfficeMax creates powerful tradition, Elf Yourself

  1. Emily Ebert says:

    Anthony, I love this! As an annual user of the application, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “even brands that seem dry can find ways to engage like superstars.” Even if Elf Yourself isn’t making people run out to OfficeMax for a new printer, it definitely helps solidify any brand affinity its customers might have had. And what a great strategy that it’s a campaign that can come back year after year without people getting tired of it! Great pick.

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