.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taking care of business gets a helping hand

Office Depot, the $15 billion, global office products company, launched a new broadcast campaign centered around a “Helping Hand.” Literally. The spots feature a forearm and hand that protrude from an Office Depot box and guide shoppers around the store. I was all set to write about it, but the folks at American Copywriter beat me to it with their post "Office Depot casts Thing to battle Easy Button." Thing, if you’ll remember, was the creepy hand-in-the-box on the Addams Family.

It’s easy to compare Helping Hand to low hanging fruit like Thing. And while were on the subject of “easy,” how about Staples’ Easy Button? You can’t ignore that one, either. So, why did Office Depot launch Helping Hand? For the answer, I contacted Mindy Kramer, Director of Public Relations at Office Depot.

According to Mindy, it’s not about Helping Hand vs. Easy Button. “Office Depot believes that being a helpful resource is a distinct platform that will differentiate us from competitors and cement our point of difference in the minds of business customers. The 'Helping Hand' gets the message across in a highly entertaining and memorable way that is relevant to businesses everywhere. It is a metaphor for the role Office Depot plays in the lives of customers.”

Asked if Office Depot will offer a branded hand-in-the-box to compete with Staples Easy Button, Mindy states, “Doing whatever it takes to help our customers is much more important to us than creating a gadget that does nothing but sit on your desk.” Office Depot may have to rethink that one. People will automatically make a comparative connection between Easy Button and Helping Hand. So, why not exploit that? Personally, I’d take a hand-in-the-box gadget over a red Easy Button any day of the week—especially if the hand did something cool.

Despite the Thing-like execution, as a positioning line, being a “helping hand” to businesses is a good place for Office Depot to be. After all, the Easy Button is a tough act to follow. Depending on how Office Depot’s campaign evolves, it could have the legs they need to garner a bigger share of mind.

Other famous hands...

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