As I write this, I am watching Ohio State begin to get very humiliated by a Gators team that looks like it might lead the NFC were it a pro team. In any event, the new Office Depot ad just came on. Have you seen it?

A pair of people are at work and one is staring at a very cluttered desk. He says, “I need to clean this up, but I could really use a hand.” Presto! An office depot box appears and a hand pops out of it, ready to guide the way to a pristine office. Cut to a scene where the now happy and peppy guy walks around Office Depot, pushing a cart in which sits the hand-in-a-box, pointing at file folders and plastic bins like some kind of dismembered zombie intern.

The effect on screen is not so much creepy as it is just plain dumb.

This ad can only be called a blatant rip-off of the Staples “Easy Button” campaign. I mean, it is just a total rip-off. Even worse, it is stupid. The “Easy Button” idea is pretty funny, and Staples has done a great job with it. But to take that idea, steal it, and somehow decide to blend it with the Addams Family, can only be called a colossal mistake.

Anyway, I decided to write a post about it because it reminds me of two things:

  • Groups of presumably smart people (e.g., the ad agency for and the leadership team of Office Depot) can work themselves into such groupthink that they talk themselves into believing that dumb ideas are good; and
  • The path to a bad idea often leads through an earlier good one, and sometimes leadership is about knowing when to stop walking down the path and say, “let’s try something else.”

In the meantime, will someone give Office Depot a hand?