A year ago, one of the surprise holiday breakout hits on the Web was ElfYourself.com. It was a promotional viral video site created by OfficeMax that let people upload their pictures and create dancing elves that they could then send as e-cards to family and friends. ElfYourself turned out to be the fastest growing site last December, peaking at 39 million unique visitors in the U.S. (and attracting a total of 100 million unique visitors worldwide throughout the campaign).
When Greg Spiridellis, CEO of JibJab Media, saw ElfYourself, it resonated with him because JbJab is organized around a similar series of “Starring You” videos that allow people to upload their photos so that they can star in the videos, and send them as digital cards. The JibJab videos also often involve dancing characters.
Spiridellis decided to look up ElfYourself’s traffic numbers on Quantcast, and this is what he saw:
For that one month, it rivaled Facebook in traffic. But Spiridellis thought JibJab could bring the site up a notch. In February, he cold-called the chief marketing officer of OfficeMax and proposed a partnership: JibJab would create new dancing elves around its Starring You platform. There would be not one dance, but three: Disco Elves, Jazz Elves, and Country Elves. There would also be the opportunity to sell digital downloads of the videos and personalized images printed out on cards, mugs, and mousepads.
It could turn ElfYourself from an expensive marketing cost into something that might actually make money. OfficeMax agreed and this year JibJab will run the site, which is scheduled to relaunch later this week. That’s a teaser shot above that JibJab sent us featuring some of the TechCrunch crew (Michael, Mark, Heather, and me).