M/W Kicks Off Steelcase Work

Martin/Williams spotlights the combination of form and function in Steelcase office furniture in the agency’s first campaign for the category leader.

“The message is about practicality of design,” explained Tom Kelly, creative director at the Minneapolis agency.

“They don’t design furniture with aesthetics as an end goal. They want the aesthetics to help people produce better work,” Kelly added.

The print campaign backs the Grand Rapids, Mich., company’s Emerge line of desks and Leap chair models. Each execution is meant to highlight a specific product attribute for customers with a close-up photograph.

With striking photos and catchy headlines, the campaign stresses that Steelcase furniture is the result of sophisticated design, Kelly said.

“They wanted to go beyond [Steelcase’s reputation for solid furniture] and say, ‘It’s not just furniture. It’s furniture designed to make you work better,’ ” said Sarah Lien, an account supervisor at M/W.

In one ad, for example, the Emerge line depicts a close-up of a blue wastebasket that is attached to the desk. “Furniture designed to make you think better. A built-in trash can in case you don’t,” reads the headline.

An ad for the Leap chair shows the sleek back of the chair with the headline: “Ergonomic. Chic.”

The current campaign contains no tagline. A brand campaign from Martin/Williams for Steelcase is expected to launch late in the fall, Lien said.

The work breaks this week in publications such as Forbes, Fast Company and in various furnishing trade magazines.

Steelcase’s estimated $10 million account was awarded to Martin/Williams last August. The review came down to Martin/Williams and a second finalist, BBDO Minneapolis.

The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., the company’s previous agency, did not participate in the review.

Biggs/Gilmore in Kalamazoo, Mich., continues to handle promotions for the company’s dealers.

Steelcase, which was founded in 1912, is the world’s leading office furniture manufacturer, much larger than its nearest competitors, Haworth and Herman Miller.