OfficeMax Goes Back to School

CHICAGO OfficeMax will debut a new season of its back-to-school prank show, Schooled, in August, moving from Disney partner ABC Family to broadcast network the CW.

“Disney was a great partner, but we feel [the CW] audience was in our sweet spot,” said Bob Thacker, vp of marketing for the Naperville, Ill., client. “They were very interested in the show from the beginning.”

In this year’s show, developed by Chicago boutique The Escape Pod, the retailer filmed a prank on unsuspecting band students at New Milford High School in New Milford, N.J. The premise: students are told they could lose their music program unless they take a test and successfully play “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (best known from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey).

The students humorously answer bogus questions and prepare a risky arrangement of the piece. After a less-than-stellar performance, they are told the whole day was a prank and are treated to a performance by The All-American Rejects.

This is the second year of Schooled, Last year, the show pranked eighth graders with the possibility of not moving on to high school and featured a performance by Disney artist Jesse McCartney.

The show will air Aug. 5 on the CW. Unlike last year, the network sold ad time during the program, albeit with the caveat that OfficeMax competitors could not buy commercials, Thacker said.

“They saw what we did last year, and understood that what we’re doing this year takes it a notch beyond,” he said. “The CW felt they could sell the time.”

The program also has an extensive online component through a partnership with Google. In addition to a dedicated Web site for the show and click-to-view video snippets from the on-air program, Escape Pod developed downloadable widgets such as a self-esteem booster that will also run as advertisements on teen-oriented Web sites.

The show will also have promotional spots running on the CW during the week prior to air and a roadblock on Google-owned YouTube.