Office Max is an office supply store in America.

They sell the usual stuff.

Stationary, desks, chairs, coffee machines, telephones, computers.

Not exactly a riveting category.

Not much of a story.

Not the brief you’ve been waiting for.

Oh yes, and there’s no media.

So how can you generate some advertising that people will notice?

That get’s exactly to the people you want.

In the environment you want.

That people will participate with.

And it will create its own media.

In fact, how about getting people to actually do the advertising for you?

And then circulate it to a personalised list of friends and relatives?


Never happen, right.

Well check this out.

OfficeMax have a free Christmas card on their website.

It’s a little animated film of several elves dancing and singing Christmas carols.

It looks pretty banal, but here’s the twist.

You can download a photograph of yourself, plus friends and/or family.

You fit the photo into the little shape provided.

The programme then puts that head on one of the elves and matches up the mouth movements.

When you play it back you have yourself, plus friends and/or family, dressed up like elves.

Singing and performing a silly dance.

It’s crude, and of course it’s corny.

But that’s the whole point of Christmas.

It’s the one time of the year it’s okay to look embarrassing and silly.

Who isn’t going to circulate that around the office?

And to anyone they think will get a laugh out of it.

And when these other people get it, they can make their own cards too.

And they can put pictures of their friends and/or family on it.

And they can circulate them.

And on and on.

And all the while people are getting to know the name of OfficeMax and what they do.

In exactly the right environment: the office.

And all OfficeMax had to do was put it out there.

Their prospective customers do all the work.

And they do all the media.

The media becomes everyone in their email address book, and their Christmas card list.

It’s the perfect deal.

Everyone gets what they want for free.

People in their office at their computers get a fun Christmas card for free.

OfficeMax get publicity for free.

They get their name recommended between friends for free.

The really clever part for me is the Trojan Horse nature of it.

People will open emails when they recognise the name of the sender.

But if OfficeMax just sent out loads of unsolicited emails themselves no one would open them.

They’d just get treated like junk mail, and deleted as soon as they arrive.

But not these.

These get circulated and opened up and laughed at.

Maybe they even get saved over Christmas.

And sending them on is just a click away.

They become part of the Christmas fun, part of the environment.

So now when anyone in the office needs any office equipment, at least OfficeMax is top of mind.

For free.

This is what my daughter did on Sunday.

See, it even made it onto a blog.

Where hundreds of people will see it and maybe make their own version.

How creative is the thinking behind all this?