Office Depot Focuses on 'Co-Worker'

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Office Depot Focuses on 'Co-Worker'

By Charlie Menchaca - 05/26/2016
Holiday campaign encourages gift giving at work with a variety of in-store and online activity

Retailer: Office Depot

Key Insights: 85% of co-workers enjoy exchanging holiday gifts, and 93% of part- and full-time employees who intend to buy a gift consider co-workers friends.

Activation: The “Co-Worker Collection” campaign spotlighted a 34-category assortment of products such as “stop stealing all my pens” pack of pens and “stop asking to resend files” flash drives. The campaign used social media and in-store activity to tout the collection.

Boca Raton, Fla. — Office Depot took an unexpected but successful strategic turn last year when it began to answer a tough question: “What gifts should I give at work?” The retailer’s answer came in the form of the “Co-Worker Collection,” a campaign spotlighting a 34-category assortment of products such as printers, snack food, headphones and other items ideal for office presents.

The collection stood out in stores and online during the 2015 holiday shopping season with humorous, quirky phrases that supported each category, such as the “stop stealing all my pens” pack of pens and the “stop asking to resend files” flash drives. The campaign also did not hesitate to get snarky and suggest products like hand sanitizer that might otherwise not be given as a gift. “This was really a departure in the sense of ‘let’s stop trying to be everything to everyone and focus on where we can win … office gifting,’” says Eduardo Souchon, senior director, category management, omnichannel.

Although the campaign did partially spotlight brands such as Micron Technology’s Lexar, Apple’s Beats by Dr. Dre and Kraft Heinz Co.’s Planters, the effort was intended to encompass the entire store inventory, Souchon says. “The premise was that anything in the store could be a gift.”

The “collection” resulted from the retailer wanting to differentiate itself during the holiday season. To achieve this, Office Depot reached out to advertising agency McCann, New York, for help. “We tapped into a cultural insight about our business lives. Because we spend more time with our co-workers than family and friends, we know these people scary well,” says Neil Frauenglass, co-head of McCann account management. “Not only do they deserve gifts at the holidays, but we already know exactly what to get them.”

To help support the campaign, Office Depot had APCO Insight conduct an online survey of 300 office workers in fall 2015. Among the results: 85% of co-workers enjoy exchanging holiday gifts and 93% of part- and full-time employees who intend to buy a gift indicated they give holiday gifts because they consider co-workers friends.

The campaign slowly emerged in October with holiday colors on corrugated pallets, then hit full stride in November with an omnichannel presence. In stores, stanchion signs, banners, wobblers and handouts supported the campaign. Office Depot’s visual merchandising team, headed by Louis Pokriefka, executed the majority of the in-store materials.

At checkout during the campaign, Office Depot gave shoppers a sticker sheet carrying the campaign’s tongue-in-cheek phrases and slogans. One of the stickers reminded shoppers not to forget to “Elf Yourself,” a separate ongoing holiday campaign.

The online activity included updates about the collection on the retailer’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and five McCann-created YouTube videos, which were also viewable on the campaign’s landing page, OfficeDepot.com/coworker.

Souchon says all the different elements play into Office Depot’s larger “Gear Up For Great” marketing platform that was introduced in 2015. The slogan is altered to fit seasonal campaigns, and in the case of the holidays it became “Gear Up For Gifting.”

Souchon did not disclose the cost of the campaign but said the company’s investment in it was comparable to its 2014 effort, which had a general holiday gifting theme. “I can share that overall the campaign was very successful at driving sales at retail, despite most of the investment to drive awareness being on the digital side,” he says.

In all, 80% of the campaign’s attributed sales came from retail. The company also posted a favorable ROI, receiving about $4.20 for every dollar it invested in the campaign, Souchon says.

The campaign benefitted from buzz in advertising publications and its inclusion in the “12 Days of Giveaways” segment on Warner Bros. Entertainment’s “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“Ultimately, the program started a new conversation about office gifting through an integrated program that cut across advertising, PR, e-commerce and in-store,” Frauenglass says.