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tul_pens.jpgOfficeMax has launched an elaborate, and undoubtedly expensive interactive campaign featuring “graphologist” Dr. Gerard Ackerman to launch OfficeMax’s new private label design pen brand, TUL. It’s created by DDB Advertising-Chicago and the heavy hand of ad agency cluelessness is evident.
The very nice, and intensely cheery PR person told me the campaign is “hilarious” “amazing” and “a hoot.” It’s definitely funny, and I laughed out loud when Dr. Ackerman told me he loves me. I didn’t feel compelled to pass on the URL to friends, but I did think it was fun. If I am ever in an Office Max store and see a Tul pen, I’ll certainly look at it.
But there are many missed opportunities in this campaign, like feedback from participants on how accurate they find the readings. All in all, it’s an amusing old-fashioned push message with a couple of new media bells and whistles.

People have the option to go straight to for a “personalized” on-site analysis or to mail in a sample of their handwriting which results in Dr. Ackerman emailing them a video that shows an image of their handwriting as he analyzes it.
Dr Ackerman is portrayed by satirist Andy Bobrow, a writer for the TV show “Malcolm in the Middle”. The TUL pens that Dr. Ackerman displays.
Consumers can participate in the handwriting analysis by answering a few questions on the TUL site, or by completing and mailing in a postcard from ads that will introduce the TUL Pen Graphological Initiative in Wired, InStyle, Esquire and Dwell magazines this October. After completing this process, participants receive a personalized Web video link with an analysis by Dr. Ackerman himself. “Each handwriting sample is individually analyzed; each Web visitor’s experience with Dr. Gerard Ackerman will be utterly unique,” says the press release. Yeah, right.
The TUL line of blue and silver-accented ballpoint pens and magnetic dry-erase markers are priced from $1.49 – $3.99 each to $8.99-$24.99 for sets.
God is in the details, and attention to them is sloppy. For example, I left a message for Dr Ackerman yesterday on the site’s “answering machine” and nobody has called back. Don’t say he’ll call unless he’s gonna call.
The PR person said there are “No immediate plans for in-store events or appearances by Dr. Ackerman, but OfficeMax and its agencies are mulling over next steps to use Dr. Gerard Ackerman for media interviews, TV appearances, etc. For now, the focus of the handwriting analysis campaign is driving traffic to the Web site (and selling TUL pens!)” Yes, but, doh, you have to drive traffic with integrated marketing.
The budget? “OfficeMax can’t comment on their advertising budgets or the percentage of their budget which is online vs. offline/traditional. Sorry!”