Book ‘Em: Hardboiled Ads Back W.B. Mason

Baldwin & Stone’s latest television push for office-supply chain W.B. Mason spoofs hardboiled crime dramas of the 1940s.

One spot opens with a voiceover introducing W.B. Mason’s “low-price assurance detectives,” who stake out the parking lot of a “superstore” in search of those guilty of spending too much. When they see a familiar-looking, glamorous woman getting into her car, they follow her out of the lot and pull her over.

After accusing the woman of “reckless purchasing and spending to endanger,” one of the detectives says to his partner, “She’s a repeat offender —book her!” The cop hurls a Mason catalog through her window. She looks stunned at the catalog’s low prices while the detective writes a “ticket” imploring her to call the company’s toll-free number to save on office supplies.

After the woman asks, “Who was that low-price assurance detective?” a voiceover says, “Who but W.B. Mason,” the client’s long-running tagline. The effort is filmed in black and white.

Sixty- and 30-second versions of the commercial began airing this month during network and cable programming in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn.

W.B. Mason, a client of Cambridge, Mass.-based Baldwin & Stone for more than a dozen years, spends about $1-2 million on ads annually, according to CMR. Casey Media of Braintree, Mass., handles buying chores.

Noir-style W.B. Mason commercials featuring a recept ionist character broke in Bos ton and Hartford last September. Baldwin & Stone had planned to introduce a different ad style this year, but when consumers reacted so favorably to last year’s effort, the shop deci ded to expand on the hardboiled theme. “We wanted to keep the momentum going,” said agency evp, creative director Paul Stone.