Shutdown: I Believe You Have My Stapler

I guess I'll have to... burn down the building...

In creating the movie Office Space, production designer Edward T. McAvoy had a problem. He needed to create an item that would be so unique, the character “Milton” would become attached to it and refuse to let it go. The perfect answer would be a brightly-coloured Swingline stapler with an art-deco style about it.

The problem was, it didn’t exist. So he bought an appropriately shaped stapler, and he painted it.

Shortly thereafter, Swingline started getting a massive amount of requests for their signature, distinctive red stapler. The problem is, they didn’t make one. So they did what any smart company did: they started making it.

It became a huge seller for them. So much so, that the Red Stapler became a part of the marketing lexicon. Mr. McAvoy didn’t create anything new, anything dramatic, but he created a cultural icon that spoke to people.

  • chrystlubitshi

    one of the stores i managed (in my retail days (not that long ago)) had one of these in the office area. my first day at the store, within 5 minutes of arriving, i sent a picture to my (now) wife of it with 'have you theen my thtapler?'…..

    also– one of the worst things you can do for workplace productivity is to watch that movie on the clock… we did that on 3rd shift at the good ol' OMax one night… not such a good thing…

  • I was quite impressed to find out that Office Space was actually shot here in Austin. Sadly, "Chotchkies" closed down earlier this year due to poor management. It was actually the Alligator Grill, and had 50 cent oysters.

  • To me, Lumbergh smirking before taking Milton's stapler is a summation of our unconsciously savage nature and the reptilian brain.

  • dwegmull

    One of these days I will watch this movie and then read the entire Internet again, this time getting all the jokes…

    • zaddikim

      You really owe it to yourself to watch this.

    • I just make up my own movie in my head for the references I don't understand. Of course, after a while I get them all confused, and this makes for awkward moments at cocktail parties.

  • Jo_Schmo

    Great movie! I have this amongst all the other geeky knicknacks on my desk:

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  • tbase

    I think it's hilarious how many t-shirts and other things with the Red Swingline on them are modeled after the actual one Swingline makes, which is different than the one in the movie, which you have a great picture of above. You'll notice most don't have the Swinline lettering on the side like the one you pictured, but have the metal nameplate on the top.

  • Eric Cutler

    Apparantly the ppl who make the decisions at the top for swingline staplers didnt care enough to make their new red stapler actually look like the one from the movie so some of us had to get our own! 🙂