I can say with 100 percent certainty that NBC’s ‘The Office‘ is my favorite show of all time. As gifts, I have received ‘The Office’ posters and trivia games and on my old iPhone I even had ‘The Office’ app. I can also say, with utmost confidence, that I have seen every single episode.
Therefore, when I learned on Monday that Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper company featured on ‘The Office’, is now a real brand, I could barely contain my excitement. According to the Wall Street Journal‘s article, Great Scott! Dunder Mifflin Morphs Into Real-Life Brand of Copy Paper, Staples’ Quill.com agreed upon a licensing deal with NBC’s parent company to launch a Dunder Mifflin private-label copy brand. Quill.com plans to incorporate the carelessness that ‘The Office’ fans love so much by including slogans on their paper packages such as: ‘Quabity First’ and ‘Get Your Scrant On’.
Reverse product placement such as this has been in place for decades. Marketers are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already wildly popular in pop culture. As an added bonus, this is often much cheaper than building brands from scratch. Examples include Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants from the movie ‘Forrest Gump’.
While I think this plan is genius, and Staples has now established itself as my favorite office supply store thanks to this strategic partnership, I’m surprised by the timing of this campaign. ‘The Office’, now in its eighth season, lost Steve Carrell as the infamous attention-seeking boss, Michael Scott. Therefore, average viewership has declined 20 percent from its previous season. It seems odd that Staples chose this season, of all seasons, to integrate Dunder Mifflin as a marketing tactic.