Staples marketing blows it with new 3D printing program ad


I think the most appropriate words after sitting through this video is, WTF? I can’t think of a better way to express the feeling. What the f…?

It was just a week ago when Staples announced its new 3D printing venture. The office-supplies giant revealed its plan to introduce their 3D printing pilot program, called Easy 3D, in 2013. Although the initial rollout will begin with Belgium and The Netherlands, it made a worldwide splash.

This is exciting news, and Staples’ crack marketing team leaped into action by creating a video to alert the world of its new program. Rather than spoil the fun for you, just watch it yourself now:

Did you say WTF or equivalent, too? I mean, really, what the hell were these guys thinking? Their first mistake is that they assume you’ve got 18 minutes and 22 seconds (that you’ll never get back) to watch the whole thing. The second mistake is that they must have thought they really needed 18 minutes of video because after the 18:22 minutes are up, you realize that you’ve watched a 2:20 minute ad eight times in a row. The — exact same ad — eight times. No warning, so you just keep watching, feeling like you are in some alternate universe.

On top of that, they decided to include no sound — that’s no background music, no speaking, not sound of footsteps. Nothing. Did they have trouble finding a Dutch translator? Maybe they just wanted to produce it in the universal language of silence for all to not enjoy equally.

The video strangely takes a POV (point of view) perspective (a trick picked up from the adult industry?) of someone missing a chess piece, and then uses the new Staples service to make a replacement for it. Problem #1: “Scanning” a chess piece they want to duplicate takes only one quick photo. Not possible. Problem #2: They could have at least begun with a chess set that has the white pieces of the same color as the piece they printed. As the new piece is set down on the board, it’s painfully obvious that the new piece does not match. Hell, they could have even just painted the printed piece to match the set.

There’s one other thing unrelated to the video, but I have to say it: why did they decide to call this “3D Paper Printing?” If I didn’t know better, I would have wondered what this whole thing is about: does it print Origami? Paper airplanes? Interestingly shaped reports? Just call it 3D Printing. Yeah, I know the MCOR 3D printers they use are subtractive technology, not really additive, but still, if you want to sell it, sell it. To a user, the end result is as if they 3D printed it — only the material is different.

Maybe advertising and marketing are simply different in that part of Europe than it is in the States. Maybe I just don’t understand. However, an apparently bewildered viewer made a comment in Dutch on on the Youtube video page, and a Google Translate translation of his comment tells me it must not be a cultural thing:

(Not so expertly) translated to English:

Seems rather impossible that you can create a 3D object with a single photograph as reference, in this video you can clearly see that it does not work, it does not seem really. Bit strange that there is no sound and it is so often repeated word. Apparently the PR department masse from the nose are eating.

Yes, the “PR department masse from the nose are eating.” Way to buzzkill all the excitement, Staples. Back to the drawing board.

About Mark Fleming


4 Responses to “Staples marketing blows it with new 3D printing program ad”

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  1. Cameron Naramore says:

    Haha, yea that’s pretty awkward. It’s almost like they’re trying to make it look bad. The Mcors print in color, so why not match the one thing that could have been matched with a single photo?

  2. Ian Johnson says:

    I thought they were going to scan an adjustable wrench and send it to Staples. I hoped they don’t get bogged down trying to do some kind of web based CAD. They should partner up for a branded version of Tinkercad, and get “Send to Staples” buttons for various apps the way Shapeways and iMaterialize are doing.

    I think they recognize that a big hurdle for their business is going to be their customers’ ability to generate 3D models. I hope they can solve that problem through partnerships with 3rd parties rather than creating unrealistic expectations in their customers, creating a poor solution that turns most people off, and then abandoning the service because it turns out to still be too niche.

  3. vince says:

    Have you been to Staples? It’s awash in crappy, outdated office products, Windows 7 in a box, and poorly-designed sliding keyboard trays. Do we really think they will master ANYTHING innovative?
    I think they still sell Pink CD-R stacks, in case you ever want to time-jump to 1998…

  4. WuLongTi says:

    at the 0:32 mark there’s a cameo from the Thugger model by Arial Lemon on Shapeways :D

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