Office Max shows fun side of print services

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The success of online games launched by OfficeMax during the holidays has spurred the office supply retailer to make games one of the strategies of a national marketing campaign it began last week.

In early December, OfficeMax launched 20 holiday-themed game Web sites to position the company as a fun destination to find holiday gifts. One site, http://www.elfyourself.com/, gained a lot of traction, including mentions in mainstream media outlets such as "Good Morning, America," USA Today and CNET. Thanks in part to the online games, consumers spent 4 million hours on the OfficeMax Web site during the five-week holiday season, with the average visit lasting seven minutes.

"Online advertising isn't just about taking TV or print ads and throwing them on the Web," said Bob Thacker, OfficeMax senior vice president of marketing. "Online is a dialogue, and when you establish a dialogue with your customers, they're willing to spend all kinds of time with you."

The holiday game sites taught OfficeMax that play is one of the best ways to engage people online, he said.

With this in mind, OfficeMax, Naperville, IL, recently launched two more games - Print Jogger and Collation Nation - as part of a new campaign to support the rebranding of its print and document services business as OfficeMax ImPress.The games are at www.officemax.com/arcade.

The games are meant to show that OfficeMax knows how people feel about printing-related tasks.

"We've all had that problem where you're standing in front of an office printer and it gets jammed," Mr. Thacker said. "OfficeMax understands that printing can be frustrating, and we can help."

The online part of the campaign also includes banners on Yahoo, MSN and AllBusiness.com.

ImPress, which offers printing and document management services for retail customers, small and midsize businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies, was formerly known as OfficeMax Print and Document Services, which just wasn't an interesting name, Mr. Thacker said. The name ImPress aims to describe both what the printing division does and a benefit it provides. The rebranding campaign looks to drive growth in the already $300 million business at a time the company is introducing new technology.

For example, OfficeMax has a pilot program in St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Miami and Denver involving in-store kiosks offering printing services to small businesses. At the kiosks, customers can choose from various brand identity designs or bring in their own to create business cards, letterhead and other paper products.

The integrated effort for ImPress includes a 28-page custom-bound special section in the Jan. 28 issue of the Wall Street Journal that will be printed and bound by OfficeMax Impress. The goal is to show that OfficeMax ImPress can handle large printing jobs for major companies, Mr. Thacker said.

Radio spots created by DDB Chicago debuted on national network radio in mid-January. The humorous spots refer to stereotypical characters in need of reputation makeovers, such as loan sharks and repo men. 

Other elements include newspaper ads and a sponsorship of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." TV ads will appear in four markets.

Targeted mail pieces drop next month to small and midsize businesses, designed to drive retail footsteps. More direct mail efforts will target large companies with which OfficeMax may have office products accounts but not print services contracts.

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