Staples Shifts Focus to Business

Staples has selected Martin/Williams over The Martin Agency and two other finalists to relaunch its brand to a business-oriented audience in new work expected this fall.

The Framingham, Mass.-based office-supply retailer last week chose the Minneapolis shop to handle the broadcast creative duties on its $70 million advertising account. Martin/Williams will take a lead strategy role on the account, working closely with Staples’ in-house agency, said Judy Shapiro, the company’s senior vice president of corporate advertising.

“This is a great opportunity to combine the strengths of our in-house department, which has been working on the brand for years, with new ideas from Martin/Wil-liams,” she said.

Sources close to the review said The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., presented creative and strategic ideas that were considered”too bold and out there” for the conservative retailer.

Several factors drove the agency change, most not-ably a desire by senior managers at Staples—some of whom were recently installed—to boost the fortunes of the nation’s No. 2 office-supply chain by refocusing marketing efforts on business customers. With $10.7 billion in sales last year, Staples trailed market leader Office Depot, which had sales of $11 billion.

To win the three-month review over finalists Carmichael Lynch, also in Minneapolis, Wieden + Kennedy in New York and Martin, the shop drew upon its retail, catalog and office-product experience. For its initial client meetings, the agency wallpapered its offices with advertising it had createdfor former clients like 3M.

The agency also noted in presentations that its president, Steve Collins, and creative director Tom Kelly cut their teeth on 3M’s commercial office-supply account.

Eight-year incumbent Cliff Freeman and Partners of New York declined to participate.

Martin/Williams joins Grey’s MediaCom on Staples’ roster.