As colleagues (and students) know, the advertising I respect most combines creativity with smart strategic insights. The new work I just came across for the newly-merged Office Depot and Office Max is a perfect example. While the new campaign isn’t exactly over the top creatively, it does build on a simple thought I predict will be very effective for them.
The campaign’s mission is to cause a simple shift in perception in the mind of the consumer. What the chain sells isn’t “supplies” any longer – it’s “gear.” And there’s a big difference. According to chief marketing officer Tim Rea, “supplies” are what people buy for things they have to do, while “gear” powers the things they want to do.
The commercial introducing the “Gear up for Great” campaign attempts to convey the satisfaction that the right “gear” can help create by enabling the proud customer to do a better, more effective job. That’s something that most everyone can appreciate – including (but not limited to) the Type A business warrior types who are probably the store’s best customers.
To me, Office Max, Office Depot (and Staples, for that matter) are stores that have always represented possibilities – beckoning me to come in to get something that will help me accomplish new things – or more old things. They are also creative resources; I’m proud to say my children looked forward to trips to those places as much as they did visits to Toys ‘R Us.
Okay, I admit this is all about a simple word change, and it’s asking a lot to think that will make a big difference to today’s distracted consumers. But it doesn’t have to be huge – it just has to be right. And I think it is. “Supplies” are the things somebody else orders to make sure we have enough of in the file cabinets, like copy paper and blank CD’s. But if it’s the paper I’m going to use for a great new project, or a CD I’m going to send out with some cool work samples to generate freelance assignments…that’s “gear.” That’s different.
Turns out Office Max/Depot isn’t selling their stuff against other people’s stuff as much as changing the shopping experience from an errand into an adventure. I like it.