April 13, 2010
 

Office Max's Elf Yourself: ad:tech People's Choice Awards Finalist

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Of all the activities associated with Christmas, sending out greeting cards is probably the most tedious. It takes time, effort, thought, and money, and you potentially feel guilty if you forgot to send a card to someone who sent one to you. Even receiving them rarely evokes the same nostalgia they once did. Since the Internet keeps us all more accessible than we were in the past, receiving communications from a friend isn't as big a deal as it once was. With elfyourself.com though, OfficeMax made the ordeal both easy and fun once again.

To be clear, people don't closely associate elves and office products, so at first glance it is difficult to see why OfficeMax would use this method to connect with their audience. However, considering how enjoyable it is to send these elfish greeting cards and the demand that exists for it, the answer seems to simply be that it works.

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Now the only question is if "working" in the viral sense equals "working" in the retail sense. The evidence is indisputable in the first case and undecided in the second, at least in the short-term.

Remarkably, the website does not annoy people with flashing banners that promise the greatest-ever sale in the history of OfficeMax. It isn't even what some overeager advertising professionals would call "strongly branded."

That's not the point.

It's simply a service for people looking to connect with others at Christmas - a thoroughly entertaining and subtly self-depreciating greeting that's easy to use and distribute - that, oh by the way, was brought to them by OfficeMax.

Therein lies the real genius of the concept.

By rejecting the narcissism people have come to expect of advertising - by getting the "brand message" out of the way of the audience's goals, the site, instead of being an accessory to the brand, becomes an instance of it.

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Please click on "Meet Cam!" to learn more about the author!

The ad:tech People's Choice Awards is the perfect opportunity to showcase your best work to the rest of the industry. But you have to hurry if you want to submit an entry because the deadline is Friday January 23rd; yes that's this Friday!

Last year, the editors of Madison Avenue Journal selected what we felt were the most creative entries from the list of finalists; and we're happy report that we selected a few winners. In the spirit of the 2009 awards, we're showcasing one of our favorites from 2008, The Office Max campaign "Elf Yourself."

The ad:tech panel of judges agreed and awarded it Best Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign, Best User Defined Experience, and nights greatest honor; Best of Show. "Elf Yourself" is brainchild of the talented team at EVB, Inc.

The big question on our minds. Can they do it again? We'll have to wait (with baited breath) and see.

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