Trainual's Office Ad

The Story Behind “Trainual’s Office Ad”

Lo Kidd

October 02, 2020

Since we aired what’s been dubbed “Trainual’s Office ad,” we’ve gotten non-stop questions asking how we made it happen.

We get it – it might be the first time some of these cast members have shared a screen since the show aired. (Some of them didn’t even make it to John Krasinski’s 2020 Zoom cast reunion.)

And in less than 3 months, our Office ad has garnered more than 22.7M impressions and 639k engagements (AKA likes, comments, and shares) across all major social platforms. So I’m here to tell (almost) all.

The idea behind Trainual’s Office ad

If we’re being completely honest, our Office ad wasn’t some elaborate, years in the making project. It was more of an inside joke that took on a mind of its own. (Although, it did take almost 2 years to take full form.)

We’re the first to admit that we’re obsessed with The Office – and that this obsession makes zero sense.

Here at Trainual, our whole deal is helping teams stay aligned and accountable. Yet the show depicts the poignant foolishness that plagues 9-to-5s, mockumentary-style. And no one – not even the regional manager – is aligned or accountable with their company’s goals. But that’s what we love about the show!

When we first launched in 2018, we would explain to people that Trainual keeps your team members from being a Dwight, or a Michael, or a Pam. (Because let’s be real – every character on that show could benefit from Trainual.)

And we even made a mockup Dunder Mifflin account for our demos and product previews because we thought it was funny. Plus, it really drove the point home.

The Dunder Mifflin Trainual demo account

But we didn’t expect people to resonate with it so much. This approach to our marketing might have been funny. But it was also real and called out a real problem that our solution fixes.  

So, we kept running with it.

How we pulled it off

Fast forward to November 2019, and our team was attending TechCrunch Disrupt, an annual technology conference held in San Francisco. And who do we see but Leslie David Baker, the actor who plays Stanley Hudson, on a print ad for another company.

So we figured, if they could get Leslie, so could we! We just had to figure out how.

We started with a kind of “6 degrees from Kevin Bacon” approach. (In our case, it was 6 degrees from Leslie David Baker.) But we quickly realized this was a dead end.

So we turned to the internet. Using a service like Cameo – the service where you can order personalized videos from your favorite celebrities – seemed like the obvious answer. But we didn’t (I repeat, we did NOT) use Cameo.

Until recently, any videos made by the service couldn’t be circulated for commercial use. And even now, most celebrities still won’t let you use their cameos as ads.

However, the service was how we found the email that Leslie directs his commercial inquiries. (You’ll find this email in celebrities’ Cameo bios – if they’re sharing it on the platform.)

But if that’s a dead-end, try getting an IMDbPro account. With that, you can find the contact info for basically every agent, manager, publicist, or rep for almost any star. And all you have to do is email them a pitch to start a conversation. (This would’ve been our plan B!)

So, sitting in the San Francisco International Airport, waiting to go back to Phoenix, we shot Leslie an email with a short pitch. And before we even boarded our flight, we were on the phone with his manager, talking about a quick self-shot video we could bring to life.

Evolving into something viral

Comments on Trainual's Office ad
The comments on Trainual’s Office ad pretty much sum up to “best ad ever!”

The first video with just Leslie was an instant hit, gaining over half a million impressions in less than a year. People were going wild seeing Leslie on their feeds, in their Stories.

So we figured if one Office alum generated this much buzz, a few Office alums could create a lot more! So we decided to get a few more of the actors on board.

This time around, we took a super similar 6 degrees from Leslie David Baker. Except for this time, Leslie was the jumping-off point. And having already done it once, we were a lot closer to the rest of the show’s stars.

We doubled down with 2 more of the show’s actors: Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone) and Kate Flannery (Merideth Palmer).

Armed with 3 separate very simple videos from these stars, our incredible Video Content Creator, Nic Pachunka, stitched them together into one social-ready minute.

Since letting the ad loose, we’ve had a lot of people ask if we’re going to add more actors to the reel. And well, you’ll have to wait and see.

(But, Steve Carrell, if you’re interested, give us a call!)

Become a better business leader in 5 minutes a week

Get all the news small business leaders need to know - straight to your inbox.

Related Stories

Try the app behind the ad

Trainual is the world’s #1 training software, according to G2! Try it free for 7 days – no credit card required.

Try for free Already a user? Sign in