Office Depot ads hail 'Heroes'

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Office Depot last month rolled out an ad campaign, “Heroes,” designed to celebrate small businesses and the role they are playing in the economic recovery.

The campaign, created by Y&R, New York, is part of Office Depot's broader “Smart” positioning, which was launched last year.

“We did quite a bit of research to find the right positioning for Office Depot,” said Jeff Herbert, senior VP-marketing at Office Depot. “We were in the middle of what is being called the "Great Recession,' and we wanted to make sure we were communicating the right positioning for Office Depot. The insight we took on is that small-business owners are concerned with doing the right things at the right time, and they want to make smart decisions to help drive their businesses.”

Herbert said that out of the research with small-business owners came the idea for “Smart.” “There is an easy way of doing things and a smart way of doing things,” he said, referring to competitor Staples Inc.'s tagline, “That was easy.”

“We want to communicate the message that we enable small-business owners to be smart in the things they are doing.” Herbert added. “We've taken the "Smart' positioning and driven it through all things—inserts, radio, TV and online.”

The “Heroes” TV campaign features small-business owners confronting a variety of business situations and shows how Office Depot can help them solve their problems. The first spot features the owner of a small barber shop who faces competition from a superstore that opens across the street, offering $6 haircuts.

The owner goes to Office Depot to save money, then puts up a banner on his store reading, “We fix $6 haircuts.”

At the end of the spot, Office Depot has a promotion offering a free 4-gigabyte USB drive to customers that spend at least $75 on HP ink or toner products. The promotion changes weekly to feature different offers.

Office Depot plans to roll out more TV spots in the “Heroes” campaign this year.

“We want to celebrate the ingenuity of small-business owners and show how they go about addressing everything from competition to everyday business needs, and show how they stay nimble and get things done, regardless of situations they find themselves in,” Herbert said.

The first spot is running on broadcast and cable networks through mid-February in the “back-to-business” time frame for small- and midsize-business customers, Herbert said.

Office Depot is promoting the campaign on its Web site, as well as a Facebook page at

The “Smart” campaign debuted last June with a “Small-business self-bailout plan,” offering online tools, resources and support for small businesses to help them survive the recession.

As part of the effort, Office Depot also created a Web site ( that offers small businesses such solutions as business tips, special product promotions and expert advice from USA Today small-business columnist Steve Strauss. The site was developed by VML, a digital sibling shop of Y&R.

Also as part of the campaign, Office Depot launched the Office Depot Adopt a Small Business contest, which recognized small businesses that came up with innovative solutions for meeting challenging economic times.

Entrants created two-minute videos showing the smart things they do to survive the recession, and Office Depot awarded more than $1 million in prizes and services to more than 500 small businesses in the U.S.

The “survival of the smartest” Web site is still active and features resources on a variety of topics, from help with taxes to advice on becoming a green business. It also features a weekly video series called “Smart Specials With Matt and Matt,” humorous webisodes showcasing products and deals specifically for small businesses.

For example, a recent episode, titled, “They Could Be Robots,” promoted Office Depot's Tech Depot Services group, which provides technical support for customers.

Beyond the “Smart” campaign, Office Depot has rolled out other marketing initiatives designed to help small businesses. Last month, it partnered with the National Association of Professional Organizers in a program called National Clean Up Your Desk Day.

According to a telephone survey of more than 1,000 small-business professionals, conducted by MARC Research for Office Depot in December, respondents said a disorganized office led to lost time (47%), meeting tardiness (16%) and missed deadlines (14%).

To help combat some of these problems, Office Depot offered special promotions, such as a 10% discount on organizational products, set up a Facebook fan page and provided organizational tips for businesses.

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