OfficeMax Seeks To Max Out Spend Via Entertainment


Adweek
November 12, 2007

FOR the past couple of years, OfficeMax has sought to add some levity and fun into the stodgy office supply category as it subtracts dollars from most forms of traditional TV advertising.

The chain has pulled Punk'd-style pranks on middle schoolers, created singing and dancing Web pixies and made the world's largest rubber band ball, all in the name of a strategy of "unexpected events" championed by svp-marketing and advertising Bob Thacker. Having joined the chain in late 2005, Thacker has de-emphasized traditional advertising in favor of a strategy that relies on such branded entertainment efforts.

The latest foray into branded entertainment by the Naperville, Ill.-based retailer, is a sponsorship tween phenom Miley Cyrus' tour. She's touring as both herself (a top-selling pop country artist) and her alter ego (top-rated TV star Hannah Montana from the Disney Channel). That sponsorship began last month.

The timing couldn't be better. Cyrus, who already has sold 4.4 million CDs, just entered rarified space in the music business when she started selling out stadiums in minutes, surprising even veteran concert promoter AEG Live.

Tickets are selling at 20 times their face value (and up) via brokers and Internet auctions, with prices surpassing even the Police, Bruce Springsteen and Van Halen shows. "This tour is in the big leagues," said Ray Waddell, senior editor/touring at industry publication Billboard. "The value of associating with it is huge."

The partnership with OfficeMax also links the star with the marketer's cause-related program that gives school supplies to teachers. Aside from the usual venue banners, the marketer has created stations where fans can customize signs to hold up during the show (the 21st century version of the Bic lighter) and a two-minute vignette airing on stadium screens.

In the video, set to the Cyrus song, "I Learned From You," the young singer talks up the charity, Adopt a Classroom, asking fans to "help me support the real stars—your teachers." (The vignette appears on the marketer's Web site and in-store). OfficeMax also has created parent lounges at the concerts in top markets where adults can get away from the screeching crowds to find earplugs, snacks, computers and other amenities.
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