If you haven't Elfed yourself, or haven't gotten an email from a friend or relative who has Elfed themselves, you probably haven't logged on to your email recently.
For the un-initiated, "Elf Yourself" is an online service from the office supply super-store OfficeMax, and the service is off to the races once again, following its successful roll-out last year. In Elf Yourself, users can upload photos that are then attached to dancing elf bodies that can sing and dance to pre-programmed music. Kind of like your own personal Jib-Jab, which is ironic since Jib-Jab now offers that same service.
You can even call an 800-number and record what you'd like your "Elf" to sing, and computers will change your voice to sound more elf-like. It's hysterical.
And it's hugely successful. Viral Friday reports that Elf Yourself is by far the runaway viral video online, generating something like 40 million hits in just five weeks. The numbers are staggering and exactly the kind of thing a company like OfficeMax hopes for when unleashing something like this.
Some reports have the site receiving 200 hits a second! And it's everywhere. Our Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer elfed themselves on 'Street Signs" yesterday. The site has also been seen on VH1 and "Good Morning America."
In announcing "Elf Yourself," OfficeMax says, "Nearly a quarter of million people have visited the ElfYourself.com web site in anticipation of this year's launch." Ryan Vero, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer adds: "At the height of ElfYourself's popularity ten people were 'elfing' themselves every second. ElfYourself --and now ScroogeYourself--is our way of bringing a little light-hearted fun to family and friends during the holiday season.
It's easy to get caught up in the grind and stress of getting your holiday 'to do's' accomplished, but these two digital characters help people spread cheer and keep the season bright."
Last year, Viral Friday reports, OfficeMax saw a 20% pop in visits to its official website thanks to Elf Yourself. OfficeMax says better than 9.5 million elves have already been created, well ahead of last year's total 11 million elves created. Already, Quantcast, Alexa and GoogleTrends indicate that this craze is once again grabbing shoppers' attention.
The site was originally designed by the New York advertising firm Toy New York.
Oh, and if Elf Yourself isn't your cup of tea, check out OfficeMax's other site along these lines: Scroogeyourself.com.
Update: I've just gotten off the phone with Bill Bonner, OfficeMax's senior director of external relations. He says that as of late yesterday, users have created 49 million Elf Yourself videos, well ahead of the 40 million total elf videos created during the campaign last year. He fully suspects the web site to count its 50 millionth elf some time today. The site has already attracted 77 million hits this holiday season, with each user spending an average of 7 minutes creating these vignettes. That works out to 1,036 years of time spent on this site.
Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com