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February 03, 2009

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tom martin

John,

Nice write up. First time I've heard anyone talk about Elf Yourself as just one of a group of tests. Glad to see OfficeMax gets how marketing online is so very different than offline.

But here is the one big issue I have with Elf Yourself. I use the campaign as an example of what NOT to do in the SM world.

Namely, create something that is viral but doesn't link back and reinforce your brand. While I've never done any formal studies, in my informal polls, maybe 1% of the folks I ask can link Elf Yourself back to OfficeMax.

So while Elf Yourself was a huge success as a creative and viral execution - was it really a success as marketing tool for OfficeMax? Did it drive sales? Did it create a halo effect for OfficeMax? Unless OfficeMax has some research that shows my informal studies are way off the accuracy mark, I'd say no, this wasn't exactly a complete success.

What do you think?

@TomMartin

Andrew Foote

Tom, you make a fair point. I remember reading a response to this question from Bob Thacker (Office Max marketing exec). Here's what he had to say:

“We were looking to build the brand, warm up our image. We weren’t looking for sales. We are third-place players in our industry, so we are trying to differentiate ourselves through humor and humanization.”

Also, Google shows that "Elf Yourself" is a top rising search trend related to OfficeMax. And "Office Max" searches are peaking during the holiday season. http://is.gd/iJYC

So it looks like people are making the connection. A recent Brandweek article also pointed to research from OfficeMax that said in 2007, 40 percent of those who created elves associated the experience with OfficeMax. More than 30 percent said it made them more likely to shop there. http://is.gd/9yEK

John, I completely agree about experimentation and turning on a dime when things don't work. I'd be curious to know how much OfficeMax spent building 20 microsites with the goal of hoping that 1-2 would stick. Love the strategy, but in this economy I can see many clients balking at the idea of broad experimentation. Then again, my guess is that building 20 sites is equal to, if not less, than the production and placement cost for 1 30 second spot.

Christine Mortensen

Great article...Just want to point out that the AdRants data links to a post from Decmber 13, 2007 not 2008. Both links offer great information though! Thanks for sharing!

Benjamin E.

Hehe...I suspect you/they don't mean that the *average* time people spend on the website is 800 years...that would be quite difficult when the average lifespan doesn't even break 100. As a *total equivalent* time extrapolated *from* averages, now, maybe.... :)

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