At some level, almost all office holiday parties are the same, with a similar cast of characters: the tone-deaf karaoke singer, the appetizer chowhound, the party crashers from another office, and that dance star whose style is patterned after Elaine “Little Kicks” Benes from “Seinfeld.” In 2010, Office Max—the folks who have let you Elf Yourself for years now—turned these universal Yuletide forces into a bingo game that office party-goers could play via the cameras on their smartphones.
Working with digital agency Rosetta, OfficeMax designed a holiday campaign that launched November 30, 2010, with a free iPhone app and a code-protected Facebook app. Users were asked to set up their events in Facebook before their office parties by selecting 12 of the suggested categories, including “Most Elftastic,” “Mistletoe Moment” and “Last Man Standing.” Each user then invited players to his/her game, who went into the Facebook page (using the code from the party planner) and predicted which of their coworkers were likely to win in those categories.
At party time, those players could access their party’s custom Facebook Bingo page on their smartphones and upload photos from their phones to the page for each of the categories. Post-party, players could view all the photos inside Facebook, tag them and compile a slide show. They could also use the OfficeMax ImPress photo printing platform to place in-app orders for keepsake calendars of the party, with one of the 12 category winners as the featured photo each month.
The campaign relied on organic traffic to the OfficeMax website to attract users and lead them to initial downloads of the smartphone app from the iTunes store. That was a fairly reliable driver, given OfficeMax’s sponsorship of the “Elf Yourself” online app, whose seasonal site has received 378 million visits and 416 million elf creations since its launch in 2006. In 2010 OfficeMax also rolled out a Facebook app called “Elfmas Town,” which offered holiday-themed interactive games to visitors who liked the brand.
That kind of success is hard to replicate, but OMX Office Party Bingo posted strong results, with 1,170 application downloads and, thanks to coverage in more than 20 news outlets, an exposure audience of some 2,326,000 consumers.
Office supply retailers maintain that their biggest shopping season is the back-to-school period, not December, so senior vice president of marketing and advertising Bob Thacker has often said that his brand’s aim during the holidays is as much to bolster awareness and engagement as it is to create conversions. “It’s a tradition at OfficeMax to spread cheer during the holiday season,” Thacker said at the launch of OMX Office Bingo. “Through this application, we hope to offer party-goers an innovative way to interact around holiday events, share experiences, and keep the holiday fun going.”