Combined Office Depot, OfficeMax Entity Unveils First Brand Push

Campaign Positions Supplies as Gear

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Advertising Age Player

The combined Office Depot and OfficeMax brand is rolling out a new campaign in early January called "Gear Up For Great." It aims to change how consumers think about office supplies by using a different word for them -- gear.

People connect supplies with things they need to do but gear with things they want to do, said CMO Tim Rea. Hence, the combined retailer's new language. "We want to take our customers to a place where they're not just making more happen, but they're gearing up for great," said Mr. Rea, in a jab at the company's top competitor, Staples, which has the tagline "Make More Happen."

The campaign is the merged company's first since it tapped Interpublic's McCann, New York and UM as its advertising and media agencies-of-record last September as part of an effort to expand its advertising and marketing activities. McCann has helped the brand unify its messaging and better understand its target customers -- small businesses and general consumers -- said Mr. Rea.

The company has consolidated its website under the Office Depot name, but it maintains separate social profiles for Office Depot and OfficeMax, though they feature many of the same posts. Mr. Rea said the brand is in the process of combining its overall web presence, but he did not give a timeframe for when that will be completed.

He said this is the biggest push Office Depot has made since its merger in November 2013. He declined to reveal the campaign's budget.

Combined, the retailers spent $105 million on U.S. measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media. Sales for Office Depot were $4.1 billion for the third quarter of 2014, down 3% from $4.2 billion in combined pro forma sales last year, according to an earnings statement. Last May, the company announced plans to close 400 U.S. locations by 2016, shuttering 150 stores in 2014.

In the midst of consolidating its brand, Office Depot is grappling with a cocktail of consumer trends that have shaken up the office-supply industry. The shift to online shopping and consumers' preference for big-box retailers has forced it to compete with retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Target on top of those within its category, like Staples.

With the industry challenges in mind, the retailer is moving away from a product-focused approach and toward a customer-oriented one, Mr. Rea said. Its last campaign, focused on products, asked, "Where'd You Get That?" -- a question with many answers that weren't always favorable for the brand, Mr. Rea said.

The new emphasis on gear is meant to position the retailer's associates as experts, he said, setting the company apart from online retailers and mass merchants who "dabble" in office supplies. "You can get the products anywhere," said Mr. Rea. "We're the experts that not only have the gear, but can help you use it." As part of the effort, Office Depot is ramping up training for its sales staff.

"Gear Up For Great" kicked off with 30-second and15-second national and local broadcast TV spots on January 2 -- the start of the back-to-business season, which is a key selling period for the category. The spot, called "Gearcentric," features portable printers, tablets and color-coded filing systems. The campaign includes digital video, email, print and social media, as well as a #gearlove Tumblr page and paid Twitter and Vine posts.

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