Jonathan Isaac: Staples Brings TV’s ‘The Office’ To Life [Super Bowl 2013]

Jonathan Isaac: Staples Brings TV’s ‘The Office’ To Life [Super Bowl 2013]

For anyone who has ever been paid to sit at a desk and pretend they’re a grown-up, this fake Dunder Mifflin ad for the brand's online division will strike a chord.

Jonathan Isaac, Barbarian
  • 10 february 2013

More than a Super Bowl spot, this is a creative business idea that hacks the hysteria around the annual leather-egg-throwing-contest. Strategically, it’s all kinds of clever. And demographically speaking, there’s a 99.98% chance you won’t have seen it during the big game at all., Staple’s online division, partnered with The Office to bring Dunder Mifflin’s paper products to the real world. Then a contest was launched via the Tongal crowdsourcing platform to create this TV spot. The winner, Freddy Rabbath from Tallahassee, was awarded $15k for his efforts, which, ironically, is what a glitzy ad agency would charge a client for a week’s worth of photocopying.

Creatively, it’s a slam-dunk, not just for fans of The Office but for everyone who has ever been paid to sit at a desk and pretend they’re a grown-up. It is warm, funny and strangely interactive for an ad that isn’t trying to be – once I’ve finished writing this, I’m going to charge the office next door with a paper sword.


Making a virtue of low budgets, the spot aired only in Scranton, Pennsylvania – because that’s what Dunder Mifflin would actually do. That is a deft move, adding another layer of playful authenticity to the story while saving millions of dollars. It’s no longer game day that makes winners and losers of Super Bowl ads, but the amplification strategies built around them in digital. And this is an idea that will spread because it makes people happy, not because it bludgeons them with senseless social media mechanics.


Here’s what really matters. I’ve never considered what brand of paper goes in the printers at The Barbarian Group. But from now on, it’ll be Dunder Mifflin – I expect the switch to generate a few smiles a week and that’s worth every penny in a business where conjuring up 30 seconds of film can seem like a matter of life and death.

Well played,

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