Staples is nostalgic for the ’90s in back-to-school campaign

Now that Canada Day is behind us, it’s once again time to start talking about going back to school (shudder).

Staples is an early mover again this year, launching its campaign on July 10. At a time when many Canadian consumers are frustrated by inflationary price increases, the retailer is is adopting a “Since 1991” theme and leaning on promotional pricing from the ’90s, with a creative campaign to match.

“We know Canadians are looking for more value this back-to-school season than ever before,” said Rachel Huckle, president, Staples Canada. “As the ‘working and learning company,’ we’re committed to helping students, teachers and parents get back to learning with new, exciting and affordable solutions—all designed to fuel a passion for learning.”

Howie Mandel and Pierre-Yves Lord return for the advertising, with creative handled by Jackman Reinvents (which developed the original campaign in 2021), with PR by Golin and social/influencer by The Influence Agency.

While the ads retain the same core concept that grounds the platform, the two celebrities interacting with customers in store, some of new ads also embrace a theme of ’90s nostalgia (and some very cringe-y clothing) to promote everything from top tech to backpacks and supplies. Both Mandel and Lord close the spots sporting over-the-top ’90s looks and the “Since 1991” message.

In the release introducing the campaign, Staples says it has been helping Canadians get ready for school since 1991, but the retailer has also undertaken a significant overhaul in recent years, moving away from being just a big-box office supplies brand, to “the Working and Learning Company.”

Mandel and Lord were hired in 2021 in part to help raise awareness of that shift.

David Brown