A year after online office-supply retailer Quill.com launched a line of printer paper under the label Dunder Mifflin, named after the fictional manufacturer from the long-running NBC sitcom The Office, the Staples subsidiary just announced it will be expanding the paper brand to include other office supplies: co-branded markers, sticky notes, tissues, disposable cups, storage boxes, and notepads.
While the fictional Scranton (Pa.) manufacturer may have struggled as a third-rate company comprised of lovable, if hapless, dolts, the Lincolnshire (Ill.)-based Quill has built Dunder Mifflin (in a licensing deal with NBCUniversal) into a million-dollar brand. It is the site’s third-bestselling product, says Vice President of Merchandising Sergio Pereira, who refused to reveal his top-sellers.
This is not the first time a brand has successfully crossed the chasm from fiction to reality. Some lucrative “reverse product placements” include Bubba Gump Shrimp, the national restaurant chain based on the 1994 film Forrest Gump, and the candymaker Willy Wonka, which drew its name from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the 1971 movie adaptation that starred Gene Wilder.
Pereira isn’t discouraged. He aims to make Dunder Mifflin a popular brand among small businesses. “There is very long life to the followers of this show and a very long life for the brand,” he says, pointing out that The Office will still air in syndication. “Take a look at low long, for example, the Olsen twins were able to extend their brand.” Because businesses are printing less, he says, “it’s important to create differentiation.”