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Case Study: How a Viral Campaign Gave OfficeMax Brand Recognition, Drove Shoppers

by Laurie Lande  |  
December 23, 2008

Company: OfficeMax, Inc.
Contact: Bob Thacker, Senior VP of Marketing and Advertising
Location: Naperville, Ill.
Industry: Retail (B2C, B2B)
Annual revenue: $8,960,000,000
Number of employees: 35000

Originally published on 2/5/2008

Quick Read

OfficeMax, Inc. is one of the world's largest B2B and B2C office supply chains. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange (OMX), the chain sells to customers in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Its biggest sales season is the annual back-to-school period in its markets.

But the chain also sells digital cameras, televisions, and other products that are popular during the holiday season, and OfficeMax sought to inform customers that it could be a destination for their holiday shopping. Furthermore, internal research found that customers often confused OfficeMax with its chief rival, which has a very similar name. Company officials wondered how they could distinguish themselves and simultaneously encourage customers to visit their stores for holiday shopping.

OfficeMax tried an interactive approach for the holiday seasons of 2006 and 2007. The company sponsored a special Web site where customers could create online "elves" that could be used in personal email greetings. The site was a global hit, and by December 2007 it became the 51st most-visited site on the web, according to Hitwise. About 1 in 10 Americans online visited the site, and it was the No. 1 entertainment site visited by Australians that month, according to Hitwise.

The Challenge

OfficeMax, Inc. gets much of its annual sales during the back-to-school season. To expand its sales base, OfficeMax sought to establish itself as a holiday shopping destination as well. Furthermore, it wanted to distinguish itself as much as possible from its competitors.

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  • by Ray Ortega Tue Dec 23, 2008 via web

    This shows the importance of Branding which is the best asset that a Company has and need to be promoted all the time. Also shows that having fun you create value.

  • by Michael Knipp Tue Dec 23, 2008 via web

    I doubt any specifics have been published on Staples' viral holiday campaign yet, but we posted an item about it on our blog, Hiring The Internet. The direct link to the post is here:

    Not only is this campaign uber clever, but it effectively uses social marketing to drive its message. The campaign's fictional spokesperson - more of an anti-hero, really - does such a great job keeping this thing alive. If you haven't already, look into it. It's worth the effort. You can find it at

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