It’s hard to imagine, but 10 years ago we didn’t have the Amazon app on our phones, the iPad hadn’t launched yet, and Pinterest was brand new. Yet digital was already having a massive impact on the paper industry.
It was in this climate that paper and pulp producer Domtar launched their PAPERbecause campaign, with the message that paper is sustainable, personal, purposeful and valuable.
“Our award-winning PAPERbecause campaign, which began in 2010, recognized the enduring value of the printed page,” explains this article from the Domtar newsroom. “It delivered creative and entertaining reminders of the benefits of paper through print ads in popular magazines and newspapers, as well as videos and interactive displays at festivals around the country.”
The company saw demand for their paper products dwindling but knew it was more than simply a lack of consumer interest causing the drop-off.
“As demand for paper started to decline, we noticed many myths about paper use,” said Domtar’s Kathy Wholley. “We wanted to showcase how paper remains both essential and sustainable. We reminded people of the ways paper brings them joy — from hanging diplomas to receiving anniversary cards. And we spotlighted how students learn better by reading and writing on paper. We also highlighted how Domtar partnered with the world’s leading environmental groups, pioneering ways to make paper while helping forests thrive.”
In other words, they set out to give consumers – the end-users of much of this paper – a voice in the issue, using beautiful storytelling to make the point about how important paper is to the “good things” in life.
“PAPERbecause really showed the industry what you could do with a heartfelt message and storytelling,” says Mary Anne Hansan, president of the Paper and Packaging Board, a federal checkoff program that promotes the benefits of paper and packaging in the United States. “The Domtar campaign brilliantly made an emotional connection between people and paper products. Consumers really saw the personally relevant benefits of these products in our everyday lives.”
The campaign was mentioned in several big-name publications, while related marketing materials helped schools encourage students to write letters and learn cursive. Sustainability messages also helped secure recognition for the Forest Stewardship Council certification program.
“The creative campaign won over hearts and minds, not to mention a shelf full of awards,” the article notes. “Short, funny videos showed a little of what life would be without paper — including one featuring a waiter who can’t remember an order without writing it down and another with a hilarious call to tech support. Print ads highlighted the importance of paper in history, learning and productivity.”
Ten years on, the messages are just as relevant today – maybe even more so. Consumer education has helped debunk many myths about paper being bad for the environment, while brands are embracing print again as the way to truly engage with their most important customers. Paper is making quite a comeback.
Congratulations, Domtar, on 10 years of excellent education and advocacy for an industry with strong ties to the human experience.