It's no secret that despite the recession and shrinking overall budgets, major advertisers continue to shift ad dollars to online.

Earlier this month, Nielsen reported that in Q1, spending on local Sunday supplements fell 37.7% in the United States. A perfect example of how some of that spend is making its way online can be found with Office Depot.

As reported by BrandWeek, the office supplies retailer has taken money from the $100m it spends every year on Sunday circulars and is directing it at an online show.

The show, called Smart Specials with Matt and Matt, is part of Office Depot's Small Business Self-Bailout recession-oriented marketing campaign. Smart Specials episodes can be viewed at and on Hulu. The purpose of the show: supplement Office Depot's print campaigns and entice consumers to shop Office Depot online.

So will it work? That's a tough call. Brands that have tried to 'do content' in various forms have had mixed success with more brands struggling than succeeding. The failure of initiatives like Budweiser's and Coca-Cola's The Coke Show hint that Office Depot will face an uphill battle.

The reality is that brands getting involved with content need what every content producer needs: compelling content.

After watching the 4 minute and 11 second long episode of Smart Specials entitled "Rewards Awards", which mixes product promotions with a less-than-humorous plot revolving around an awards show for Office Depot's Worklife Rewards loyalty program, I have my doubts about how compelling consumers will find Smart Specials and how long Office Depot will sustain the effort.

That notwithstanding, the reality is that sink or swim, more brands will be pulling money from their offline budgets and shifting them online. Inevitably a few of them will find the right recipe and get it right.

Photo credit: hattiesburgmemory via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 1 July, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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