What do OfficeMax and Christmas Elves have in common?

Nothing, really – or at least that was the case until the debut of “Elf Yourself.” This campaign was launched by OfficeMax six years ago and it’s still creating buzz.

Since 2006, half a billion people have “elfed” themselves. What began as a funny, seemingly simplistic idea to upload pictures into the body of dancing elves became a viral sensation. 62% of traffic in the first few years came from email. Now, it’s passed throughout numerous social media platforms.

Perhaps even more amazing than the campaign is the brand behind it – OfficeMax. Proving an inspiration to marketers everywhere, OfficeMax exemplifies the technique of inserting your brand into trending topics and becoming relevant by association.

As a major retailer of office supplies, the brand should be applauded for making their industry so cleverly appealing. Let’s face it – there’s only so many ways to market pens and paper in a riveting way. By piggy-backing on the excitement of holiday spirit, however, the brand set themselves up for success. They’ve further capitalized on this campaign in a very smart way, as they now sell related “Elf Yourself” items, such as DVD’s and mugs.

So what is the takeaway for all brands looking to step up holiday marketing? First of all, be creative. OfficeMax is the perfect example of a brand that took an unrelated timely trend – such as Santa’s Elves – and made it impossible to think of without also remembering that coupon for printer ink from OfficeMax.

High user engagement is critical in digital marketing campaigns. “Elf Yourself” is successful because it is personal: you can put your friends or co-workers faces on the elves. Engagement is a coveted metric within social media today, and what’s often missing is that element of interactivity. Users don’t just want to view an ad, they want to be entertained by it; they want to participate in it.

The coupons and promos at the end of the videos tie in the all-important sales aspect. A digital campaign must address the ultimate goal of increasing traffic and revenue in order to truly make a difference. Not to discount efforts to raise brand awareness, but it’s important that it converts.

Specialty digital marketing campaigns come in many forms. “Elf Yourself” is certainly only one of the countless successful executions geared for the holiday season. Ultimately, these campaigns aim to drive traffic and increase customer acquisition and sales. A little entertainment throughout that process is always a bonus!

Contact ZOG Digital for a digital marketing audit today and we’ll help you find a buzz campaign that fits your product or brand.

Read more: 5 Creative Holiday Marketing Campaigns Worth Imitating