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?)