Who But W.B. Mason
Founded in 1898, W.B. Mason has always had an affinity for retro and noire-style advertising. In 1899, the company introduced its signature free delivery, using a horse drawn carriage with a logo painted onto the side, similar to the recognizable logo used on their brightly painted delivery trucks today: two U.S. flags surrounding a portrait presumed to W.B. Mason himself in a vintage, cartoon-feeling form of advertising.
Competing with suppliers like Staples, Office Depot and Office Max, W.B. Mason is the official supplier of numerous companies and teams including the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, Boston University, Biogen Inc., the city of Boston, and the state government offices in Rhode Island.
The advertising account for W.B. Mason has been run by Cambridge-based Baldwin and Stone for sixteen years. Aside from the advertising on the side of the trucks, Baldwin and Stone have placed distinctive, eye catching ads on billboards and television, spending between $1 and $2 million dollars a year on ads.
Each of the W.B. Mason ads is memorable because of their spoof-nature, or colorful, humorous song and dance sequences. In 2002, many of their advertisements were a take on the hard-boiled crime dramas of the 1940s. The ads featured detectives on stake outs on the prowl for customers spending too much at competitor stores who don’t offer same day delivery on their products.
The detectives corner these shoppers, accusing them of “reckless purchasing and spending to endanger,” prompting the customer to question, “Who was that low-price assurance detective?” Making room for the company’s long-term tagline, “Who but W.B. Mason.”
W.B. Mason’s most recent ads, airing during the Boston Red Sox games, feature a small office setting with three people quietly working, until suddenly one of the employees has a freak out because he’s out of paper (oh no!). A few twitches and mouse clicks later, the doorbell rings because the employee has somehow managed to order paper from W.B. Mason online while he is practically certifiable due to the lack of paper. He gets giddy, and runs to open the door.
The colorful office opens to a black and white character outside delivering a stack of paper to the over-excited employee, who proceeds to exclaim, “Woah! Retro!” Thus concluding the ad.
The W.B. Mason Company is doing well, which goes to show Retro sells.