Dancing Elves Go Viral

Subtle advertisement gets sent around the world

Most people look for ways to avoid the commercials but Office Max has people sending their promotion around the world.  It comes in the form of dancing elves.  Once again the office supply company is using a clever do-it-yourself video to promote it's name.  The "Elf Yourself" campaign allows consumers to post familiar faces from their computer onto animated elves.  From there they can chose a theme from disco to classical and watch the animated elves dance on their screen.

The short videos are then emailed to friends and family who's pictures are often used in the dance.  The video itself, created by a company called JibJab does not contain any obvious advertising but right next to the screen is a box reading, "Brought to you by Office Max." 

"It's a very catchy, very engaging form of  "viral" advertising," said San Diego State marketing professor George Belch.  Office Max reports more than 190 million visits in 2007 to the elves creations.  Those are mostly from people sending it around through email.  That's why the name "viral", it grows like a virus from person to person.

Does it generate income for Office Max?  Professor Belch said,  "Some people may notice the Office Max sponsorship and the banner up above.  There may be some who log on, but I think the average consumer just sees the cute message that they're sending on."

In addition to the video creation, the website allows people to buy a DVD version of the dance or purchase mugs, greeting cards and mousepads with the elf pictures.

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