Staples’ Ads Promote Easy Savings

Discussion
Jul 22, 2008

By George Anderson

The Staples’ “Easy Button” campaign has long been about the office supply retailer’s ability to offer products and services that make work, school and home life easier to handle. Now, the chain is rolling out a new series of ads that seek to reinforce that shopping the company’s stores and website make it easier for consumers to save money.

Staples’ new back-to-school campaign, comprised of three commercials, demonstrates the retailer’s understanding that consumers are looking for help while offering itself as a solution for getting by in tough times.

The three spots include women, with children in tow, in common life situations, including filling up a tank of gas, checking out at the supermarket and shopping for designer jeans in an upscale boutique. In each instance, the women in the commercial push their Easy Button only to discover that it doesn’t work to lower the cost of the items purchased at other stores. At that point, we hear: “The Easy Button can save you lots of money, but only at Staples. Everything you need for back to school, at great prices. Staples. That was easy.” Each of the spots follows with specials available at the retailer including some that are free or only a few pennies.

Shira Goodman, executive vice president of marketing at Staples, told The New York Times that the new campaign, which includes online and print ads to go with the television spots, is targeted to mothers between 25 and 45.

The spots are more focused on price, said Ms. Goodman, because “in today’s environment, that’s what our customers are worried about.”

“Prior TV spots put more emphasis on assortment and ease of shopping and a little bit less emphasis on price. Our customers already know we have a great assortment,” she said.

Discussion Questions: Does the new Staples campaign sound as if it is right for the times and this year’s back-to-school season? Does the chain have a sufficient “price” pedigree so that its money-saving claims will ring true with consumers? How effective do you expect the campaign to be?

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10 Comments on "Staples’ Ads Promote Easy Savings"


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Ted Hurlbut
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Ted Hurlbut
13 years 10 months ago

Staple’s “Easy Button” is one of the iconic marketing campaigns of its time. It represents the power of convenience as the driving retail differentiator over the past decade or so. Clearly, in the current environment price, always important to a large segment of the mass market, has taken on even greater significance. But price was never a driver in Staple’s positioning. Convenience and assortment were the drivers. I would be a bit concerned about taking the “Easy Button” and infusing it with a new, mixed message.

Kai Clarke
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

Staples’ “Easy” campaign is a simple, memorable advertising message. Building off of this message should be their focus on all of their campaigns, so long as the message stays fresh, is consistent with each of their previous campaigns’ look and feel and offers new items of interest for the consumer.

Most importantly, Staples has to define when they need to change from this campaign, since an exit strategy not only protects a winning campaign, but better defines what issues a losing campaign brings forth. By doing this beforehand, Staples can avoid the problems that often arise as marketing messages shift.

Matthew Spahn
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Matthew Spahn
13 years 10 months ago

The most important mechanism in any effective marketing campaign is customer relevance. Staples and any other marketer is right to tap into the mindset, lifestage and current economic conditions that a customer is facing. The key challenge will be whether Staples, often highly regarded as the destination for high quality business needs, can position itself effectively with the likes of discounters like Walmart as a low cost solution for Back to School supplies.

Gene Hoffman
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Gene Hoffman
13 years 10 months ago

Staples’ “Easy Button,” like slot machines, might pay off handsomely, but the odds that the jackpot is available to everyone is a far reach. Still, Staples knows it has merit with the folks who like to push easy buttons.

Steve Bramhall
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Steve Bramhall
13 years 10 months ago

It’s a timely message from Staples. The customer is feeling the pinch as commodities and prices generally are at an all time high and set to rise further. I am definitely not a fan of price wars, however, in the current climate, reassuring the customer that you are on point and competitive with price is essential. Differentiating on quality and service is where loyalty is achieved. Competition is what is needed in the free market.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
13 years 10 months ago

I agree that a simple, memorable campaign that hits on the shopper pain points is great (and price is of course a HUGE pain point!) But there is also the notion of fulfilling this promise experientially. Office and school supply shopping can be enormously frustrating because there’s so darned much to remember when it comes to “what’s at home already.” And price plays a factor, but busy moms are also time constrained and need lots of incentive to be brand allegiant–especially if the Staples is across town and a competitor is more convenient to get to. And that incentive is more than just price.

David Biernbaum
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

In as much as I’m not a fan of “price” being the key marketing tool, I do think that this year the price will be the lead draw. With that said, I believe consumers for back to school supplies will still perceive Walmart to be the price leader. The office stores do offer other benefits though that will help position them for success this season.

Now, will they earn profits? That’s a different issue and it depends on what else they can “sell” while the BTS consumer shops the store.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
13 years 10 months ago

Putting price in the message is a great way to convey true value to your intended customer. Having explosive pricing will also increase foot traffic in the store. The Easy Button is easy to identify with and Staples has done a great job of establishing it as a marketing icon. I think these ads will be effective and advertising blowout specials nationally is the right direction in this economic climate.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
13 years 10 months ago

I have a Staples Easy Button on my desk. It was given to me by my former boss (great guy). My kids love to push the button when they come to my office. From my point of view, that marketing campaign was rather successful. With that said, I believe it is important for retailers to show customers that they understand their needs and concerns. Sounds like the new campaign does that.

Mark Lilien
Guest
13 years 10 months ago

Staples is one of the best run retailers anywhere. You’ll know if the campaign succeeds, because if it does, they’ll build on it. And that Easy button has become iconic!

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