Rex Ciavola, senior vice president of marketing operations at Office Depot and Viking Office Products, doesn’t let minor setbacks like postage and paper hikes dampen his spirit. Rather, he sets out to find other ways to attain the Utopian, “better, faster, cheaper” way to print.
Ciavola oversees the A-to-Zs of both of the organizations’ marketing initiatives, including all retail advertising, direct mail, inserts and catalogs. He leads a collaborative, global marketing and production organization that includes the Office Depot team in Delray Beach, Fla.; the Viking team in Torrance, Calif.; and teams based in Europe and Japan. The combined organizations have internal staffs that manage content creation, digital asset management, production and prepress.
Gretchen Peck, a Catalog Success contributing writer, asked Ciavola to share his insights and best practices for managing through these times of rising costs, technological innovation and economic instability.
Catalog Success: Catalogers often take reactionary measures when there’s talk of postal and paper pricing hikes. You haven’t resorted to the standard counter-attack measures, like downsizing basis weights, trim size, page count or frequency. You’ve found other ways to offset those increases. How so?
Ciavola: Postage is going up in the United States in 2006. It went up in Europe in 2005, and it’ll go up a little more there in 2006, too. Paper prices are going up, as well — about a quarter ahead of the price increases we’ll see in Europe. And so, what are we doing? Are we cutting circulation? Are we cutting page count? Are we chopping trim size? No.
We’re able to avoid these tactics because the printing companies — and they’ll kill me for saying this — have found ways to reduce their costs. And in turn, they’re handing over some of that cost reduction to customers — that is, if their customers are aware of this.