Staples Hits a PR Home Run with Gift It For Free

Times are hard. What’s a retailer to do? Offer free schwag, of course. Because we all want office supplies for Christmas (via Marketwatch):

To ring in the holiday season, Staples developed the “Gift It For Free” sweepstakes, which kicks off on Nov. 16 and awards 10,000 people their entire holiday purchase, up to $5,000, for free.

Joining the effort to communicate the winning message is Coach Tom, a fictional character who plays the role of a local, passionate youth sports coach who firmly believes in the concept of ONE winner. He has taken notice of the Staples promotion and is baffled by its concept.

The new campaign will push Coach Tom’s message out to the masses via the Internet, specifically through video hosting sites like YouTube, and social networking and sharing sites like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. Coach Tom will have a Facebook fan page, Coach vs. 10,000 Winners, dedicated to his mission and his activities. He will also have the ability to tweet in real time using his own Twitter profile.

Staples is proving that marketing still works. Granted, they have to give away a lot of free stuff, but the formula is a winning one: Encourage people to buy more than they usually would, offer them a fighting chance at getting it all for free, and promoting virally through a pretty entertaining coach character.

Good work, Staples, on adding pep to the prospect of paper clips, Swinglines, and printer cartridges.

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