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Office Depot targets small-business sector

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David Abelman
Title: VP-retail marketing
Company: Office Depot
Years in current job: 2
Quote: “We looked at Small Business Week as an opportunity to ... create some excitement in-store for the entire month.”


Small business meant big business for Office Depot in 2004. In May, the company decided to take Small Business Week to the next level by using it as an opportunity to launch a major integrated ad campaign.

Office Depot's Small Business Month integrated marketing program consisted of weekly inserts in more than 350 newspapers, direct mail, catalogs, newsletters, e-mail blasts, radio promotions in 15 markets, TV and print ads. Other corollary efforts included public relations, employee communications and in-store signage and training.

"We looked at Small Business Week as an opportunity to speak to small businesses and create some excitement in-store for the entire month," said David Abelman, VP-retail marketing.

The company's goal was to drive small-business owners and business technology buyers into the store, and the results far exceeded expectations, Abelman said. BBDO New York created the campaign, which also included a "Work Hard, Play Hard" contest with a free trip to Las Vegas as the top prize.

Abelman also oversaw the marketing around the launch of the Christopher Lowell line of furniture and accessories, as well as the more traditional annual back-to-school and holiday initiatives. To celebrate the launch and ongoing success of the Christopher Lowell program, the retailer sponsored an Office Makeover Contest in which small businesses of up to 19 employees sent in pictures and an essay explaining why their business was most in need of a makeover.

While Office Depot used TV, radio, inserts, direct mail, online, newspapers, magazines and billboards to communicate its message to business owners, one noted media play was its exclusive radio sponsorship of a Donald Trump daily opinion commentary on Premiere Radio Networks called "Trumped!"

Other branding efforts included exclusive bundling of business equipment with partners including Hewlett-Packard Co. for computers and Palm for PDAs.

Abelman was also in charge of marketing Office Depot's progressive new retail store format. Announced in June and called M2 for Millenium2, the format features furniture and technology in the center of the store and smaller "pod" displays around the perimeter of the store. M2 will be implemented in all new stores and remodeling projects going forward.

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