In a strange crossover from television into reality, you can now buy Dunder Mifflin-branded paper for use in your very own office. That’s right, the fictional paper products from NBC’s comedy The Office will now be available from Staples-owned Quill.com. But it’s not just a flimsy promotional product; Quill.com assures us that the paper is a “20 lb, 92 bright copy paper” which is also “100% fun!” Now you just have to convince your office to buy the same paper as usual, but at a higher price and in a much funnier box.
The article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) explains exactly how a fake product from a fake company became a real item for sale for cold, hard cash:
The Dunder Mifflin deal is an example of “reverse product placement.” For decades, marketers have worked to embed their brands in the plots of TV shows and movies as a way to stand out in a crowded ad market. Nowadays, they are seeing value in bringing to life fictional brands that are already part of pop culture. That can be far cheaper than building brands from scratch.
This implies that economic times in reality are almost as bleak as they are in the fictional world of The Office. These fiscally trying times require creative corporate thinking to inspire consumers to purchase higher priced copy paper. Licensing the Dunder-Mifflin logo is an easy way for a company to generate buzz and, hopefully, some sales. And buzz is already building for the product. (When was the last time you read a blog post about printer paper?)
To encourage sales, the article also mentions, the packages of Dunder Mifflin paper will be emblazoned with slogans from the show, such as “Our motto is, Quabity First’” and “Get Your Scrant on,” which would certainly have NewsFeed’s bosses reaching for the corporate checkbook, right?
The bigger question is: If The Office office paper is just the first step on a slippery slope towards products from television shows breaking through the fourth wall, what’s next? Duff beer? True Blood? Dan Humphrey’s book from Gossip Girl?