In January 2000, HP turned to BSMG Worldwide for a campaign that would transform the way media gatekeepers, and eventually, consumers, thought about printing and their printers.  The goal?  Inspire people to use their color printers more often to help drive sales of HP peripherals, a real boon to the bottom line.  The resulting campaign, “Turn on Your Imagination…Click on Print,” not only transformed the way the media perceived of printing, it helped to inspire millions of consumers to use their printers everyday in colorful ways they never imagined.  As a result, sales of HP peripherals soared 20% -- making the consumer PR campaign one of the most successful in HP history.


Home office printers are reliable, predictable and ready when you need them.  And while that’s good news for consumers who rely on them to churn out memos, term papers and other text based documents, it’s not-so-great news for HP, the world’s largest manufacturer of printers and peripherals (e.g., inkjet cartridges, paper, etc.).  In fact, the conundrum facing HP was simple:  How could the company overcome the widely held perception of “printer as home office workhorse” and encourage people to go beyond “black and white” to use their color inkjet printers more frequently and in new and different ways?


An audit of top-tier consumer media, including top national magazine editors and national morning show producers, confirmed the widespread lack of interest in the concept of “printing.”  To counter their ennui and breakthrough the inevitable media clutter, HP and BSMG set three measurable objectives for its campaign:

Improve media attitudes toward printing.  Transform the perception of printing as “dull and duller” to “fun and exciting” among a minimum of 30 percent of target media.  

Generate widespread interest in and attention for printing, as measured by the quality (e.g., primary message delivery) and quantity of media coverage as well as positive media interest and feedback.

Alter consumer behavior to embrace printing projects.  Validate consumer interest in printing projects, as measured by sales of peripherals and consumer traffic to HP’s printing project Web site called “Printsville.”


Consumer media, including long-lead women’s and men’s interest publications; parenting magazines; teen magazines; crafts magazines; home décor publications; the lifestyle/living sections of newspapers in top 50 ADI markets; national morning TV; national and syndicated talk shows (e.g., Regis & Kathie Lee, Oprah, Rosie, Later Today, etc.); network affiliates in top 50 ADI markets.


Printers are a one-time purchase; peripherals need to be purchased on a regular basis.  The more people use their printers, the more frequently they need to restock their peripherals.  Therefore, HP needed a fresh and compelling way to motivate consumers who already owned a printer to use their printer more often (ideally, everyday) and for more graphics-intense projects.  The biggest challenge in reaching consumers, however, was to convince the consumer media that printing was hip, hot and worth reporting.  Most showed little to no interest in the concept when probed during an exploratory audit.

Given the enormity of the task at hand, BSMG created a three-pronged approach to transform the way consumer media, and ultimately consumers, thought about their home office printers.

  • Engage target media at various points throughout the year to expose them (and ultimately, their audiences) to new and creative ways to use their printers; highlight special and everyday occasions.
  • Use credible spokespeople to inspire consumers to use their printers in new ways.
  • Develop story angles tailored to targeted media and take advantage of seasonal opportunities to keep printing top of mind.


The most vexing challenge was determining how to transform the act of “printing” from necessary evil to exciting “must do.”  This was overcome three ways.  One, by using lifestyle-focused story angles and pitches; two, by using spokespeople who resonated with the target (e.g., crafts expert Deborah Durham, digital photography enthusiast Meredith Vieira, wedding expert Leah Ingram, football great Brent Jones and others) and, three, by using creative collateral pieces that did double-duty – breaking through the media clutter to demonstrate printing’s creative possibilities.

Engage target media; highlight special and everyday occasions: BSMG created “interactive printing parties” to help engage consumer editors and allow them to create their own printing projects.  The editors and a “miniature guest” (e.g., daughter, nephew, friend, etc.) were invited to a “colorful” locale (such as the Tavern on The Green, the Rainbow Room, etc.).  There, each guest received one-on-one instruction on creating 3-D printing magic.

BSMG created visually compelling press kits and 3-D printing items and sent them to target national and regional press, as well as long lead consumer publications every two months.

Use credible spokespeople to inspire consumers: BSMG identified and trained “approachable” spokespeople (e.g., arts and crafts expert Deborah Durham, wedding expert Leah Ingram, and personal expression expert Sharyn Wolf, to name a few), to inspire consumer interest in printing.  Spokespeople delivered key messages via regular satellite media tours and radio media tours, in-studio segments and live chat sessions via; 

BSMG also went beyond the tried and true to work with Phillip Bloch, “stylist to the stars” for a Halloween-themed media tour that drew rave reviews and extensive coverage.  The concept helped to make printing the new “fashion statement” among the elementary school set and their parents immediately prior to a key selling season.

Develop tailored story angles; leverage seasonal opportunities

BSMG developed an ongoing calendar highlighting seasonal and evergreen topics (i.e. Parties, Snow Days, Weddings, Camp, Back To School, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, etc.) to help keep printing top of mind and in the news.

BSMG coordinated an ongoing “By Hand” column series with target influencer Family PC.  BSMG also created a partnership with Family PC’s Web site, providing monthly editorial content promoting a variety of printing project ideas.


Sales of HP printing peripherals have soared 20% since the consumer PR program began.  

Improved media attitudes toward printing.  Transformed the perception of printing as “dull and duller” to “fun and exciting” among 50 percent of target media.  

Generated widespread interest in and attention for printing, as measured by the quality (e.g., primary message delivery) and quantity of media coverage as well as positive media interest and feedback.  Coverage included feature stories and how-to articles in FamilyPC, Crafty Kids, and Newsday.  100% of the coverage has been positive; while 95% of the coverage has been brand-specific, mentioning HP by name.  In total, the PR campaign has reached more than 250million consumers.
Altered consumer behavior and promoted consumer interest in printing projects.  Traffic to HP’s  printing project Web site, Printsville, doubled from 1,000,000 to over 2,000,000.