Office Depot Ready For Back-to-School

Office Depot jump-starts its back-to-school efforts with an estimated $30 million campaign that promotes its Hewlett-Packard alliance and extends last year’s strategy of easing the anxiety of the season.

The first of four 30-second spots breaks today and shows a mother coming home with packages, including a new HP Pavilion PC for her grade-school-age daughter. “Thank you, thank you! You so totally rock!” the girl gushes. Dad is incredulous, but when Mom shows him the store receipt, he gets as excited as his daughter and echoes her words. The new tagline is, “So set for school.”

Colby Graff, client director of advertising, said the work further emphasizes the message in last year’s back-to-school campaign, which was tagged, “Helping your child succeed.” “The back-to-school season is stressful for parents and kids,” Graff said. “We wanted to show that through Office Depot, they can be fully prepared.”

Graff added that the integrated campaign—TV, print, radio, interactive, in-store—from Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York gently touches on the anxieties associated with the season, and that the computer, going for $499 with rebate under the exclusive offer, is considered suitable for all kids K-12.

Graff would not comment on media spending, but sources said the effort represents about one-third of Office Depot’s $90 million annual U.S. media budget. The company, based in Delray Beach, Fla., spent $20 million on last year’s back-to-school campaign from July through September, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

In the second spot, an executive type sees a mother purchasing the HP at an Office Depot and says, “Nice computer. Starting a business?” Her daughter responds, “Fourth grade.” A third, playing off Office Depot’s sponsorship of the Olympics, shows pre-teens attempting, without much success, sports such as diving, gymnastics and track. A male voiceover says, “Every parent dreams of their child achieving Olympic glory.”

BBDO’s Adam Goldstein, a senior creative director, said the fourth spot, in which a teacher, a principal and a driving instructor each address the camera and say, “Thank you for shopping at Office Depot,” is a reminder of how many people benefit from purchases at the store.

Office Depot, the No. 2 office-supplies retailer in the U.S. ($12.5 billion in sales, per Hoovers Online), is beginning its back-to-school advertising a week after its main competitor. Staples ($13 billion in sales, per Hoovers) broke a regional back-to-school spot July 19 featuring Alice Cooper. That spot will go national on July 28, according to the company.

The commercial was produced by the client’s former shop, Omnicom Group’s Martin/Williams in Minneapolis. Staples, based in Framingham, Mass., handed its $60 million broadcast creative business to Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson this month after a review.