Direct Line Blog

Forget W.B. Mason, I want Dunder-Mifflin

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If you're like me, you want your copy paper to come with a side of misogyny, sold by a Pennsylvanian beet farmer with a bad attitude. You want a watermark that clearly shows a mouse and a duck having a bit too much lurid inter-species fun.

If you're like me, you're in luck, and it's all thanks to Michael Scott.

Staples will soon be selling the fruit of Scranton alongside the chain's typical array of paper brand selections (NBC is getting a cut of the profits). But while the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company once faced small-business suicide going up against the big guys — especially Staples — the man who once called the business landscape “a doggy-dog world” is having his fictional last laugh.

Not only is Staples soon going to stock Dunder-Mifflin paper, it's going to sell it at a premium price. Priced largely above private-label copy paper, the Dunder Mifflin packages will be emblazoned with slogans such as “Our motto is, ‘Quabity First' and “'Get Your Scrant On,” said The Wall Street Journal.

That's what she said.

Even for an office-supplies company that can eat other office-supply companies for breakfast, it's an interesting time to decide to spend paper on paper. Analyst Mark Connelly told the Journal that paper sales in North America have been declining at about 3% a year, partially because of the greater use of PDF documents and email. (Maybe people actually are paying attention to the popular email tagline: “Think before you print.”) Then there's also the slowly recovering economy, which still sees most people swayed by price when it comes to paper and just about everything else.

But in terms of marketing, Staples may want to send word to the Party Planning Committee. Product placement is a well-known marketing tactic, but taking a fictional brand from a popular show and making it real? That's creative. And the branding has already been done, so no need to worry about logos, mottos or design.

Staples is betting that devoted followers of the show will be happy to shell out more for “official” Dunder-Mifflin paper, and passionate fans (like me) will likely remember the many times Michael and his coworkers-cum-family had run-ins with the office giant.

In an episode called “The Convention,” Michael Scott successfully breaks Staples' exclusive deal to distribute Hammermill paper products.

Dunder-Mifflin loses an employee to Staples in the episode “Branch Closing,” and after Dwight Schrute gets fired, he goes to work where? Staples.

Well, well, Staples, how the turntables.

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