It's that time of year again, when you trawl the Web for unflattering mugshots of your boss to embed on the bodies of dancing elves with the "Elf Yourself" holiday card promotion, going live for the fourth consecutive year on Tuesday. They're the brainchild of OfficeMax, which teams up annually with online animation shop JibJab to bring forth what might be the most successful social-media marketing campaign that the Web has yet seen.
Last year,, and OfficeMax says that since it launched in 2006, the seasonal site has chalked up 284 million visits. So what's new this year? Well, there are two new elf dances! Yay! You can now, in addition to "Disco Elves," "Country Elves," and "Elf Classic," choose to model your creation off the "Hip-Hop Elves" or "Singing Elves" dances.
More importantly, OfficeMax is playing up how the latest edition of "Elf Yourself" ties into Facebook and Twitter, with an option to tweet out your video creation or to share it on your Facebook profile or a friend's. Additionally, it uses Facebook Connect so that you can source your embarrassing headshots from your photo albums or your friends'--that's clever.
It's not actually clear whether "Elf Yourself" drives up OfficeMax sales at all, but it does make some money on its own: you can pay to download the video, which normally expires once the holiday season has ended, or to order a hard copy.
Now go forth and tick off your human resources department.