Leading Shops Prepare Staples for National Push

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Four agencies came together this week to move Staples Inc., Framingham, MA, into the forefront of the office supplies market for small businesses. New York-based firms Cliff Freeman and Partners, i-traffic and Eisnor Interactive Inc., worked with Staples' inhouse advertising agency to develop the "Your Online Office Manager" coast-to-coast cross-channel marketing program.


"Our goal is to be the pre-eminent office supply retailer, whether they shop at Staples.com, in our retail stores or through our catalog," said Jeanne Lewis, president of Staples.com. "To do this, we need to market ourselves online and offline to reach all our target customers."


Staples spokeswoman Shannon Lapierre said the company kicked off the first portion of its campaign early last week with local television advertising broadcasts in six of its key market segments. Lapierre said the complete program for Staples includes Internet, direct mail, outdoor, radio and television advertising "all designed to drive new traffic to our company's Web site."


Cliff Freeman and Partners developed new television commercials using the same cheerful, reassuring humor reminiscent of the company's former "Yeah, we've got that!" campaign. This latest execution is a 30-second television commercial, called Lightbulb, which began airing in spot markets Sept. 27 and is slated to hit cable networks beginning Oct. 4. Lightbulb plays up the notion that a company's office manager is a hero, one that especially succeeds by turning to staples.com for office supplies.


In addition to its planned national and local spot advertising and direct mail, Staples says it will roll out high profile outdoor advertising on New York transit buses for the city's hosting of the Fall Internet World at the Javitts Center. Those ads, which began last week, will promote Staples' Web site in conjunction with other internal media, such as catalogs, brochures and in-store signage across the country.


Michael Shimkin, senior business manager at Eisnor Interactive said Staples' online media would also include strategies that "deliver [the Staples] message in experimental mediums as well as traditional mediums." He declined to be specific for competitive reasons but assured that "part of what we are doing is something I think you [could call] interactive outdoor." He focused his comments more on characterizing how the program's execution "epitomized a real convergence campaign" and how much success the four agencies had working together.


"It took about three months of work to put everything together. We think it will work very well. But we've had a lot of face-to-face meetings and conference calls with all the groups together," said Shimkin. "Basically Staples' agency led those meetings, and we all took turns presenting our elements. That's not always something easy to do - and it's not very often that four different agencies find themselves working with each other [so closely]. But I feel most proud about our ability to work together, to integrate our expertise."


Staples.com was launched in 1998. The site currently offers 6,000 products and free delivery on all orders over $50. The company says next-business-day delivery is now available in most markets.
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