Last Minute Holiday Cards? Elf Yourself Into the New Year, Until 1/2/08

elf-yourself.jpgAnn Handley, one of my fellow co-authors of the Age of Conversation book for Variety, the Children’s Charity, has a great lead-in line for the ongoing coverage of this “elf yourself” online holiday blitz.

She says, “Know how I know when an online campaign is truly viral?—When my non-geek, non-marketer friends pass it along to me.”

Yep. That’s my indicator too…And I’d add… “or the kids.”

Kids took ownership of Elf Yourself early on, and my daughter was no exception. She’s still elfing her fool head off with visuals of our dancing dog, her boogieing papa and yours truly…hilarious stuff.

Mind you, if you have more than 4 immediate family members you’re hosed. But for a last-minute annual holiday e-blast card, ya can’t beat it…That’s what my family’s getting; save a tree, send some electrons.

This thing really HAS brought a smile to many faces since its inception last year (and relaunch this year, adding a ‘Scrooge yourself” site to boot! Click on “let the humbug begin!”)

At its peak they had 10 elves per second being created, racking up 36 million hits in just five weeks on the site…Yowza. From a branding perspective, I couldn’t help but ask the kids using it (our Shaping Youth advisors) “So who’s sponsoring this?” What are they selling?

The reply?

“I dunno, some office place…One of those Office Depot, Office Max, Office Club thingies…”

Um, okay…

Well, I suppose if you’re getting coverage on ABC’s Good Morning America, and have som gold nugget brand implanting when media creates a headline like CNBC’s “Come on, give it a whirl, go to the max!” and articles like last years’ USA Today Pop Candy piece…then I wouldn’t be too worried about kids’ name recall…

Although if I were OfficeMax, with some 20+ themed sites, I’d sure want to know what was paying off from a branding basis and which one was most popular. (I’m sure they’re tallying hits to a farethewell)

elf-yourself.JPGPlayful personalization (and a bit of narcissism) is alive and well…It’s FUN to customize our mugs onto a dancing elf, receive a talking mouth in “JibJab” visual style, and a voiceover in Chipmunks movie helium tone to send holiday greetings to our loved ones…

And it’s cheaper and more eco-efficient than a Hallmark card…Ah, gotta love internet people. It’s easy, silly, and a cinch to do…no work other than picking your photo. (I can’t wait to send my daughter the Scrooge as she hasn’t seen that one yet!) 🙂

Caveat: the site has gotten so popular the server is locking up and crashing, so you might receive the message I just did which says the “elves are on strike.” Evidently, “due to overwhelming demand, there are negotiations in progress and they’ll be settled by morning.”

Ah…Clever customer service to have Office Max follow through in theme to troubleshoot the site issues due to popularity…As blogger Becky Carroll would say, they’re taking a “Customers Rock” stance.

They’ve also been a top ranked site in the humor category with 89% growth in traffic from the week prior spiking viewer intrigue…and I say power to ’em…

Yes, it’s advertising, and it’s sure reaching kids…but it’s harmless fun that beats those annoying, crass, elves from Wal-Mart I wrote about last season selling kids on being consumptionist power whiners…(ugh, yes, the ‘renegade elves Wally & Marty’ are still around this year too, just saw ’em on the tube)

Gonna go elf myself for some last minute ditties…Enjoy!

Visual credit for elf above:



  1. Okay, mea culpa…I just got a few pings offline already from parents saying, ‘harmless?’ What about the NAME of the site…and “Go elf yourself” implications…

    sigh. Well, yeah, I guess, but that kind of banter is in every single PG & PG-13 movie (probably sneaks into G ones too).

    Kids don’t seem to be picking up on that as a ‘crude slam,’ but more as a funny silly joke, so I guess I’m falling into the ‘desensitized’ category…

    Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me unless parents make it one. Remember, I’m a centrist, not a censor…so my sensibilities skew to the ‘so what’ shoulder shrug on this one.

    Feel free to disagree, (as some of you have) but again, please ping publicly so everyone can hear your comments! ‘k? Kids? Parents? What’s your take on this?

  2. My now 12-year-old son didn’t catch the implications when he heard it, but undoubtedly was told about it by his pals.

    But if we all sit back and allow our internal censor and filters to go idle for a few minutes, we can all find a bunch common phrases that can be morphed into something crude (e-mail me if you can’t think of any and are truly curious).

    I think a parental discussion would be in order if the phrase was misused, as in an actual slight towards someone (i.e., it’s March and one child tells a sibling to ‘elf yourself’), but beyond that its harmless.

    Amy: Mery Christmas to you and yours!


  3. Hey, thanks, Charlie…very level-headed assessment and much appreciated by yours truly! Thanks for chiming in…and needless to say, I concur 200%!! Off to make merry (now I’m sure THAT could be misconstrued too, ahem) You made SUCH a good point on that morphing innuendo…Cheers, –a.

  4. That shows how hip I am — the “elf yourself” didn’t even occur to me.

    But they’re saying “elf yourself” as a rhyme, not “go elf yourself” as a put-down. I think it’s fine.

  5. woohoo, thanks, Lisa…votes for sanity are leveling off here! 🙂

    Best to you and yours, (my daughter nailed me w/a gotcha along these lines…said ‘the morality police are changing Santa’s “ho-ho-ho to hey-hey-hey” (which of course, reminds me of Bill Cosby’s ‘Fat Albert’ from yesteryear…)

    She’s getting quite a wry wit…

    Merry, merry…

  6. Oh, fer cryin in a bucket…The entire concept of being so doggoned “politically correct” really fries this old soul….
    Next thing you know, if you get jabbed by a thorn on your bouquet of Christmas roses, you’ll have been “punctured in-advertently” instead of the immediate appraisal. Bah Humbug on so much of things this Christmas, but not to you, Madam….

  7. Who you callin’ a ‘Madam’? 😉 Last I heard Sidney Biddle Barrows had closed shop!

    heehee. See how things can be misconstrued?

    Charlie’s right…everything is fair game if you twist your mind around it long enough…yup, the PC police can be over the top.

  8. some of you people read too much

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