OfficeMax Takes A Page From CPB Playbook

OfficeMax, an online office-needs retailer, took the bold step of eschewing television advertising altogether, taking what it would have spent on a TV spot to develop 20 Christmas-themed microsites. The idea was to promote its stores as a gift-giving destination for that special worker in your life, but the microsites were mostly created for fun.

If executed properly, "fun" can catch a "viral wave." One of its sites, ElfYourself.com, became a sensation, generating 11 people per second, 36 million in total (it was taken down after Christmas). The result: a 20% bump in holiday traffic.

Of course it's impossible to attribute all of that to the viral marketing effort, but it certainly had an impact. The site received press attention from Entertainment Weekly, MSNBC and several blogs. Crispin Porter Bogusky's Subservient Chicken was the inspiration behind ElfYourself, which let consumers customize their own elfs, adding anything from their pictures to recorded messages in an elf voice.

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