Got paper? New industry campaign seeks to reverse pulp's fortunes

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P&PB "Letters to Dad" by Cramer-Krasselt.
P&PB "Letters to Dad" by Cramer-Krasselt.

With sales declining, the Paper and Packaging Board turns to Cramer-Krasselt for some heart-rending creative.

In an era of constant communication, when friends and family can be contacted in an instant, the art of letter-writing has, for many, been written off as a relic of the past.

But a new campaign from the Paper and Packaging Board (P&PB) aims to get people excited about physically putting pen to paper and the pleasure that receiving personal, handwritten mail brings.

The industry body, representing U.S. paper and packaging manufacturers and importers, hopes its "Life Unfolds" campaign — developed as check-off program under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) — does for paper and packaging what the "Got Milk" campaign did for dairy, or Kevin Bacon tried to do for eggs.

The $20 million integrated campaign, created by Cramer-Krasselt, rolls out today. A sentimental TV spot shows a boy sending handwritten notes made into paper airplanes over his neighbor’s fence, hoping they reach his absent father at war. The neighbor collects them and mails them to the boy's father. The boy is surprised when he starts receiving replies, oblivious to the neighbor’s involvement.

In addition to the TV push, which includes three ads in total, P&PB has created an online hub, which hosts content, such as paper crafting ideas and personal stories on the impact of paper.

The campaign also runs across print, social media, PR and OOH, and is targeted at both consumers and businesses.

Mary Anne Hansan, executive director at P&PB, said that the group hopes to increase demand for the commodity, which in the US is a $132 billion industry, accounting for 2.6% of national GDP. Since 2010, paper sales have been declining at an annual rate of 4.8%, she said. "There has been more stability in the past couple of years, so the timing of the campaign is good from that standpoint."

The campaign also aims to dispel the myth that the rise of digital technology will spell the end of paper and packaging. For example, packaging is a central pillar to digital businesses like Amazon and eBay.

"Digital has had a big impact and has changed the workforce and demographically how people like to access paper," said Hansan. "But our goal is to make sure paper stays relevant in the digital age." 

She adds that the industry is starting to experience a "pendulum swing" in favor of physical communications, with an uptick in sales of paper books and print catalogues.

The campaign is slated to run for the next five years. Next year, the focus of the campaign will shift to sustainability, with the aim of easing people’s guilt about using paper and showing it is not wasteful.


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