Staples 'Pivots' Toward Business Professionals

Staples has long cultivated its image as the “easy” place for consumers to get office and school supplies. But as the nature of its business has changed — focusing more on business delivery services — the retailer is addressing a new target 

In a new marketing campaign launching next week, the Framingham, Massachusetts company puts the spotlight on small business owners and facilities personnel who are often in charge of making sure businesses run smoothly (or, in the case of small business owners, get off the ground). 

“Our business has pivoted. We’re moving from a retailer selling office supplies to a delivery service focused on business,” Frank P. Bifulco Jr., Staples’ chief marketing officer, tells Marketing Daily. “This shift reflects where we can source our growth, and the business proposition resounds.”



The effort, from MRM/McCann, introduces a new tagline, “It’s Pro Time,” is intended to highlight the effort everyday people put in in service of their work. An overarching anthem spot depicts various business workers going about their days, from a hockey rink manager cleaning the glass after hours to a woman stripping off a blazer to work on the internals of a copier to a teacher ordering supplies via a tablet. “Inside each of us there’s a pro,” says a voiceover. “It’s not always easy to summon your pro. But once you’ve found it, you’ll find you can do everything.”

The effort continues with 15-second spots that hone directly in on these workers on their job. The rink manager, for instance, is seen cleaning the glass as a voiceover explains: “Sometimes the best way to sign your work is to leave no sign at all.” Other spots show people preparing an office for a small business launch and ordering janitorial products via their phone after a messy spill.

“Workers everywhere come to work to achieve their best. No one comes to work saying, ‘I want to be mediocre today’” Bifulco says. “[This] is a campaign that reflects the diversity of all work.”

Along those lines, the company has built the effort around certain personas involved in making business purchase decisions -- i.e., office managers and administrators, facilities managers, procurement officers, and IT professionals. The media plan is also reflective of those personas and their media consumption habits, Bifulco says. 

“We have a persona-based media plan that’s based on the deep knowledge we have in terms of the content they consume and when they consume it, as well as the devices they use,” Bifulco says. “We know our customers, and we’re going to leverage that knowledge to come up with a highly targeted and highly efficient campaign.”

While targeted directly at business professionals and business delivery services, the “It’s Pro Time” campaign will also be adapted for the Staples retail stores beginning with the back-to-school season this summer, Bifulco says.

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