Dancing Elf Video Site Back for a Second Year

The elf is back, and he’s brought friends.

With the holiday season officially underway, OfficeMax has turned to digital agencies Toy and EVB to recreate its successful Elfyourself.com Web site. The branded microsite allows users to paste pictures of their faces onto dancing elves, add a personal voice greeting, and send it to friends.

To update the site this year, EVB added three elves to the lineup, and for the anti-holiday crowd, a Scrooge version at Scroogeyourself.com.

Last year, OfficeMax tasked advertising agency Toy with creating 20 microsites with holiday themes to present itself as a gift-buying destination. While sites like Reindeer Arm Wrestling, Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out, and North Pole Dancing were part of the campaign, EVB’s Elf Yourself site generated the most viral success. The 2006 Elf Yourself campaign garnered 36 million visitors, who created 11 million dancing elves. At one point the site generated 41,000 elf messages per hour, and was ranked the 267 most visited site by Alexa rankings, according to Bob Thacker, senior vice president of marketing for OfficeMax.

“These elves breed. They reproduce themselves. To achieve that in five weeks is nothing short of history making,” Thacker said. “With Christmas the first thing you would not say is OfficeMax, but what were trying to do is link the holidays with OfficeMax and to do that we needed to break out of the normal expected media and create something that is fun.”

Based on the microsite’s success in 2006, Toy hopes to link its client to a long standing holiday tradition of sending friends dancing elves, said Ari Merkin, founding partner and executive creative director of Toy.

“We did more than create a campaign or a viral site, we see Elf Yourself as having created a property for OfficeMax. A holiday icon that can live on year after year,” he said.

Although the 2006 site was only available for five weeks, EVB Executive Creative Director Jason Zada said the dead site continued to get visits through the month of January, and again in months leading up to the 2007 holiday site launch.

“It’s a very simple site and it’s fun, and it really doesn’t try to hard to do too many things,” Zada said. “It doesn’t take itself too seriously and be over branded, it’s giving people what they want and it’s very time specific.”

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