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Tech Companies Shot Down by 'Big Paper'

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Fans of NBC’s (CMCSA) The Office have become well-versed in the struggles facing paper companies in an increasingly digital world. But in its fight to stay relevant, Dunder Mifflin -- and later Dunder Mifflin Sabre -- never resorted to strong-arm tactics against the technology industry. That kind of storyline would be completely implausible, for starters, because paper simply doesn’t have the might.

Well, as we’ve witnessed this week, Big Paper and its fleet of pulp goons should not be underestimated. And if you try to mess with them, make no mistake, you’ll get the shredder.
All Toshiba and Adobe (ADBE) tried to do was raise a little awareness about wasting office supplies. And, sure, gain a little positive PR in the process. Their joint National No-Print Day campaign -- announced among like-minded corporations like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), AT&T (T), Sprint (S), and Glad (PG) at the Sustainable Brands conference -- would encourage people to abstain from printing for just one day this October.

“The primary thing was to raise awareness of the unnecessary or wasted print in the office place, and simple ways that individuals and companies can have significant impact in reducing that waste,” said Bill Melo, vice president of marketing, services, and solutions at Toshiba America Business Solutions.

When it launched, the National No-Print Day website was full of statistics about office workers’ collective paper consumption habits -- like that we misuse 336 million sheets of paper (40,000 trees) on a daily basis -- and featured a video starring a mascot named “Tree” who tried to get his co-worker conifers to take the day off.

Now the site is a big fat page of nothing.

Why? Let’s ask the Paper Mafia.  

“We've had hundreds of hundreds of calls from members from our organization who said they will boycott Toshiba on Oct. 23 and will never buy Toshiba again,” said Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America.

You got that? “Hundreds of hundreds!

Asking people not to needlessly use paper for one single day is “completely ridiculous” Makin argued. “That's like saying, ‘Let's have a No-Eat Day.’”

Right. Or a No-Waste-Food Day.

Toshiba caved to the trade organization’s demands this week and is in talks with them to rewrite the message of the campaign. The company is expected to distribute a press release to that effect shortly.

And it had damn well better be on paper.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.