Viral Video Marketing: Holiday Spotlight

The holiday season is finally here and for months, agencies have been working with brands to create fantastic, engaging holiday marketing campaigns. Now is a prime time for brands to launch advertising efforts as ad impressions, direct traffic, click-through-rates, the average order value and conversion rates increase. The chart below from agency Group 8A maps out these significant increases and enforces the importance of branded holiday campaigns.


Though there are hundreds of media channels that brands can use to promote holiday campaigns, viral video marketing has produced substantial results for companies including Coca-Cola, the NBA, Adidas and more. Our focus today is on three holiday viral videos from Poo Pourri, Cartier, and OfficeMax that engage consumers in different ways while supporting a common goal: increasing awareness and ultimately revenue for the company.

Poo Pourri launched their video in early September and though it isn’t centered around a specific holiday, this company capitalized on the digital traffic generated by the holiday season. Poo Pourri chose to engage viewers with humorous content promoting its product, a before-you-go toilet spray that masks typical bathroom smells.

The video earned over 18 million YouTube views and 1.2 million social shares in two months. The product launched in 2007 and generated $1 million in its first year; now, Poo Pourri is making upwards of $15 million a year. The company’s viral video directly impacted sales, as thousands of orders rolled in within two days of the video’s release.

Poo Pourri used this video to represent brand personality and voice. All promotion led back to the YouTube page where the brazen British actress captured viewers’ attention and convinced them that Poo Pourri could solve all bathroom odor issues. As a promotional vehicle, YouTube accelerated the growth of awareness and revenue for the company.

Within a week of its launch, Poo Pourri’s video increased website traffic by 13,000%. To date, the company has sold 4.17 million products and attracted 21,720 followers across its social channels. Though no concrete sales numbers have been released, Poo Pourri’s viral video greatly increased brand engagement, purchase intent and ultimately revenue for the company.


In mid-November last year, Cartier released a video entitled, “Cartier Winter Tale.” In the spot from Paris-based creative studio Unit Image, young panthers frolic up a snow covered tree filled with Cartier goodies. The brand created this integrated social media campaign to promote across YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.

Cartier transformed its Facebook page to complement the campaign and on Pinterest, users were encouraged to create wish lists. Media placement across these prominent social networking sites enhanced the overall effect of the campaign, as it engaged viewers and offered an interactive element.


In the first month after the video’s release, it earned 3.3 million YouTube views. In total, the video has generated over 6.3 million views and 300,000 social shares. Riding on the heels of “L’Odysée de Cartier,” the epic three-and-a-half minute, $5 million TV commercial, “Winter Tale” contributed to the increase in Cartier’s Facebook fan base by 61%, YouTube subscribers by 150% and unique visitor traffic to by 18%.


OfficeMax struck gold with its reoccurring holiday marketing campaign by taking interactive to a whole new level. With its campaign “Elf Yourself,” the company encouraged individuals to upload pictures of themselves which would be plastered onto dancing elf bodies.

Developed for the 2006 holiday season, “Elf Yourself” became so popular that the company transformed the campaign into a tradition—it has relaunched every holiday season since its debut. This year, “Elf Yourself” will be available to the public Monday, November 11.

During the original campaign launch, the site received 36 million visitors and 11 million elves were created. At its peak, this site generated an average of 41,000 elves per hour or 11 elves per second. During the first few years, before the rise of prominent social networking sites, 62% of traffic came from email. Now, people can share personalized dancing elves with family and friends over Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other sites. Below is a behind-the-scenes video showing the original dancing elves that people paste their faces over and an example of a 2012 “Elf Yourself” project.

In 2007, OfficeMax gave users the ability to place faces over multiple elves (as seen in the example above). With this feature, the site attracted over 193 million visitors who created 123 million elves—over the six week campaign, site traffic quadrupled from the previous year.

Though interactions dropped in 2008 with the addition of a registration requirement, it picked right back up again in 2009 when the company incorporated social elements. To futher promote the “Elf Yourself’ campaign that year, OfficeMax created a flash mob of 400 dancers in elf costumes that performed in New York’s Union Square.

The video racked up 1.2 million YouTube views and 74,000 social shares. In this case, the holiday campaign wasn’t built around a viral video. Instead, the brand used video to complement its “Elf Yourself” campaign by generating awareness and further brand engagement.

Every year, the “Elf Yourself” campaign has received attention on blogs, media sites and news outlets. With each passing holiday season, OfficeMax continues to expand on the idea. In 2012, the company improved the site’s functionality and added an iOS app which became the number one downloaded entertainment app and the number two overall downloaded app on iTunes. This year, OfficeMax is adding four new dances and an Android app.

The brand found an idea that worked and ran with it for seven-plus years. OfficeMax has developed products, apps, videos and other content to support the campaign and keep “Elf Yourself” at the forefront of holiday shoppers’ minds. To date, over half a billion people have “elfed” themselves causing many to label it the all-time best digital holiday campaign. OfficeMax has taken advantage of almost every advertising channel with “Elf Yourself” and therefore produces significant results each holiday season.

For most brands, creating a holiday campaign is a given, but only by understanding the best placement options for your advertising will you be able to maximize returns and brand engagement. Integrate campaigns across a wide array of media channels and develop a consistent message—it should be simple for people to make the connection between your brand and its holiday marketing efforts. During the coming months, foster that connection which is cornerstone of consumer-brand relationships, interactions and most importantly ROI.

About Hannah Brenzel

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