Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is Elf Yourself a Success?

I admit that I don't completely understand the rationale of obscure viral marketing campaigns.

Case in point: You Got Elfed. Earlier this week I wrote an article about the disconnect of OfficeMax's campaign. The dancing elves -- while admittedly highly amusing -- have nothing to do with OfficeMax, office products, the office, etc. In fact, I guessed that while many people would enjoy creating the emails, they wouldn't associate this campaign with OfficeMax. So where is the value to OfficeMax?

There are two reasons I think OfficeMax went with this campaign. Either a) they are thinking very, very long term about brand awareness and positioning, or, b) they realize the potential power of social media campaigns and wanted to play in this arena. Hopefully, it is a combination of both.

A quick summary of the previous article: This is the second year for the Elf Yourself viral campaign, and they have added Scrooge Yourself to the 2007 holiday season. OfficeMax's svp of marketing, Bob Thacker, said "[the Elf Yourself campaign] gives OfficeMax a heart and a personality." Presumably, sometime down the road, people will start thinking OfficeMax (no, they are not Office Depot) when deciding where to buy a stapler.

After I posted this viral marketing article on this blog over a week ago, I started getting more traffic to my site than I have since its inception, mostly by way of search. As I looked at the site stats, I marveled over the keywords that were bringing people to this article. I decided to whip together a spreadsheet and do some very crude analysis of the effectiveness of this strategy.

In the 10 days or so since the article was published, 48% of keyword traffic was simply combinations of "elf yourself," "elfed," "dancing elves," etc. No mention of a company.

If you strip away those visitors, we are left with those people who specified a company name along with "elf," "elf yourself," etc. The results:

As I look at these numbers, and considering this is year two for Elf Yourself, I wonder how OfficeMax interprets <50% brand awareness from this viral campaign. What do you think?


I posted this article first on Gooruze this Wednesday and got some interesting feedback. Some thought that the mere fact that marketers are talking about Elf Yourself gives the campaign buzz and is therefore worthwhile compared to it's relatively low cost. It's not a point that I had considered, and am not sure if I find it to be a truly compelling argument for the campaign's value because it almost feels less like a "why do this" strategy, and more like a "why not do this" whim.

However, I like getting different perspectives from the bright and engaged people who participate in this online marketing community, and wanted to spread the word.