The Daily Dump

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Monday, March 27

Staples Takes Their Easy Button Too Far


I’ll preface this by saying that I like Staples. As a company, they’re probably the easiest vendor I’ve ever dealt with. I can, and have, ordered a box of paperclips from their website and had it delivered for free to my desk the next business day. That’s beyond phenomenal.

Then they created the “Easy Button” commercials, which, it turns out, isn’t just a marketing gimmick, but an actual product, of which Staples sold 500,000 in 2005. I don’t know what you do with this, besides put it on someone’s chair so when they unwittingly sit on it you can throw toner at their head and yell, “BOB! GET OFF THE EASY BUTTON!” Although you have to believe that at least a handful of those sales came from companies who saw the commercials, where employees press the Easy Button and things magically fall into place and business becomes profitable, and thought, “That is EXACTLY what my Dog Diaper business needs!”

And then Staples took their ad campaign one step further and said, “But what if the Easy Button didn’t just fix problems in the office – what if it fixed problems other places, like in the Ancient Chinese desert for instance?” So they devised a commercial where a Chinese Empire is about to be overrun by a nomadic, blood-thirsty tribe. At the last minute, one of the Chinese Empire’s infantry opens a box to reveal a Staples Easy Button and upon pressing the button the Great Wall of China is erected and the tribe is saved – EXCEPT for the guy who pressed the button! He was standing in the front line and unfortunately the Great Wall erected just to his rear, meaning everyone else was saved by his gallant efforts, but he was left to face the onslaught of hundreds of savages charging at him on horse.

The only inference you can take away from this commercial is that this guy dies. I mean, in the best case scenario he is captured and taken back to their camp where he is tortured for information about the Easy Button. But in all likelihood he is simply run over and killed right there outside the Great Wall; which raises the question: How did we get here from office supplies? Toner to out and out murder? “Yeah, we’ve got that,” to “Take his head, and find out what that button does?” I know a lot of advertising doesn’t make sense, but for some reason this just seems weird and, frankly, unconscionable to me.

The commercial must have struck a cord with other sympathetic viewers as well, you know the ones that lost a loved one in the same manner, because Staples has now created a game wherein you must calculate the trajectory necessary to safely catapult the Easy Button guy over the great wall and into a safe landing zone like a bale of hay or a tree (your welcome, Xiu Jing!) They’ve also created a section where you can crack open your “office fortune cookie” to reveal such platitudes as:

“Counting to ten before confronting coworker only gives them time to get away.”


“He who drinks too much at office party should worry about other things besides online fortune cookie.”


“First sign of spring is inappropriate clothing memo from HR.”

Which, to be honest, are pretty funny considering they came from the Staples website. But the question remains: When did Staples get into the business of stereotypical Ancient Chinese history and traditions? This is a leap I’m simply not ready to make. Staples, stick to what you are good at: free delivery and Business Rewards checks which, I don’t know how this happened, keep getting sent to my apartment instead of to the office.

(My high score so far is 105,000. It could have been better but I had some trouble with the last round. Who knew that hot air balloons were such effective weapons in Ancient times?)

10 Comments:

Dude, you're too young to be this stuffy.

That said...you're right. It's not the greatest advertising campaign. They may as well say, "Staples: We'll go to great lengths to help out 99% of you. The rest we'll anally cudgel rape sans lube."

By Blogger rob, at 3:45 PM  

My boyfriend's cousin got one of those easy buttons for Christmas. His family got drunk and pressed it all day long. It says, "That was easy," over and over and over again. They thought it was hilarious. I don't know where I'm going with this story, but I guess that's who their market is. Maybe they also like to get drunk and play capapult-the-easy-button-guy.

By Blogger Hope, at 3:48 PM  

The knowledge that it would lead to my death at the hands of an onslaught of sword-wielding Chinese warriors would certainly prevent me from EVER pushing an easy button.

Sounds like illogical advertising to me. Unless you're into being slaughtered and stuff.

By Blogger mysterygirl!, at 7:08 PM  

Here's the connection: most of their products are probably made by "my people" because of cheaper labor costs. Word up to my mother land - China in the hizz-ouse!!

By Blogger shirley, at 8:54 PM  

The whole Big Red Button thing reminds me of an episode of Ren & Stimpy when they were piloting a spacecraft and ... oh, wait, that wasn't me. Sorry. What were we talking about?

By Blogger minijonb, at 11:10 PM  

Don't know how I found you, but I dig your blog!! Though this other post about "Shows from your YOUTH" might be misnamed, as you are still IN your youth. Good stuff!

By Blogger Sherry, at 5:25 AM  

I like fortune cookies.

"Man who runs in front of car gets tired, man who runs in back of car getss exhausted."

Get it?

By Anonymous Luke Lain, at 10:22 AM  

I have an EASY button. People love coming in here and pushing it when they are having a rough day or are particularly pissed off.

I like it because it's cute and it matches my red stapler (from Office Space).

By Blogger hanmee, at 12:37 PM  

Thanks for the addicting game. I had to play until I finished (and reached the "Temple of Easy"). Seemed a bit anticlimactic, but at least I got the game monkey off my back.

By Blogger hanmee, at 7:59 AM  

Speaking of bizarro commercials, have you seen the Skittles commercial with the guy and the oddly sexual beard? It's so weird and creepy.

By Anonymous Terri, at 3:37 PM  

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