Office Max Announces an End to Rebates

Do away with consumer rebates? That’s why OfficeMax called upon Maccabee: to communicate the unexpected nationwide announcement that the retail chain was eliminating mail-in rebates.

The challenge: Explain why ending rebates was a positive step for customers who had become accustomed to “sale prices with rebates,” even if most failed to redeem the rebate.

Maccabee launched an “End of Rebates” campaign for OfficeMax, positioning their elimination of rebates as a response to consumer frustration that was designed to improve the in-store experience. Campaign messages underscored that 70% of shoppers failed to take advantage of rebates. The results —70 million positive media impressions for OfficeMax. Favorable stories about OfficeMax’s action appeared in 200 print media including The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Industry praise included Retailing Today calling OfficeMax’s action “arguably one of the most pro-consumer moves in years.” Online kudos included more than 100 Web and blog mentions, with Marketingblurb blog exulting: “Next time we need office equipment and we know the manufacturer is offering a rebate, we are going to OfficeMax.”

In the end, a corporate announcement that could have been perceived as negative became a competitive advantage for OfficeMax. “OfficeMax announced last week it was immediately ending almost all mail-in rebates – the first big office supply chain to take such a bold move,” said The San Jose Mercury News. “Memo to Office Depot and Staples: I’m going to be spending more money at OfficeMax until you, too, get rid of rebates.” One blogger on C/Net News concluded: “To hell with Staples and Hooray for OfficeMax!”