Apart from its long-running title of Los Angeles’ Staples Center, Staples, Inc., has kept a fairly low presence on the sponsorship scene.

But that is starting to change.

Looking to drive store traffic during the back-to-school shopping season, the office supply retailer has signed presenting status of the North American leg of Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour.

The tour kicked off last weekend in Raleigh, N.C. and will visit more than 45 cities before wrapping in October.

Staples is using the sponsorship to accomplish two primary goals: Amplify its commitment to teachers and drive store traffic during the 3Q sales season.

“We wanted to take our marketing activities up a notch this season, and there is no one better than Katy Perry to help us get the word out,” said Alison Corcoran, Staples’ senior vice president of North American stores and online marketing.

The campaign targets students, teachers and parents, a broader audience than Staples’ previous back-to-school initiatives. The retailer last year targeted teenagers through a partnership with DoSomething.org, around which it encouraged students to collect school supplies for those in need. 

The retailer promoted the campaign with teen actor Jake T. Austin. 

“We saw a benefit in amplifying the program through someone other than a corporate spokesperson, but we wanted to move to a marketing platform that appeals to a broader audience and gives us a more singular message.”

Staples also is using the sponsorship to support its new tagline. The retailer in January replaced its “That Was Easy” tagline with “Make More Happen”. The re-launch represents Staples’ first new tagline in more than ten years.

Staples is promoting the campaign with the “Make Roar Happen” tagline. The tagline plays off Roar, a hit song off Perry’s most recent album.

“Make roar happen was a nice tie-in, with roar being education,” said Corcoran. 

The retailer is supporting teachers through a $1 million donation to DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit that helps fund classroom programs. The retailer also is soliciting $1 donations through an in-store campaign.

The retailer is activating the sponsorship with the following two promotions:  

In-store ticket promotion. Consumers who spend $10 or more at a Staples store have the opportunity to win tickets to a local show. Consumers enter the contest by submitting a code on www.Staples.com/MakeRoarHappen.com.

Video sweepstakes. Staples this month will kick off a sweeps dangling an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles and the opportunity to meet Perry and attend the performer’s Sept.19 concert at the Staples Center.

Students enter the campaign by posting a video in which they “roar” about their educational goals, inspirational teachers and how education has positively impacted their lives.

Students upload the videos at the tour microsite.

Staples is activating the sponsorship at concerts with videos touting the partnership and the DonorsChoose.org initiative.   

How The Partnership Came About
Corcoran challenged Staples’ internal and external marketing teams to brainstorm ideas for the 2014 back-to-school shopping season.

“I asked the team to come back with ideas they felt I might say no to. I wanted them to think big in terms of getting the word out on our support of teachers and raising visibility during the back-to-school timeframe.”

Young & Rubicam’s Labstore pitched the Perry partnership.  

“The sponsorship was clearly the most exciting and easy to say yes to.”