If you haven’t heard of One Direction yet, let me enlighten you. In the pantheon of teenage boy bands designed to make little girls scream and buy lots of their music and posters and other memorabilia, One Direction is the latest and greatest to come along.
The group became famous when it finished in third place in the British version of the Simon Cowell-created show The X Factor in 2010. As with a similar singing sensation, Justin Bieber, social media played a huge part in their fast track to international fame when their song Forever Young (which would have been released if they had won The X Factor) was leaked. Once it was leaked, Cowell signed them to a record deal and their story began.
In September 2011, their official debut single What Makes You Beautiful was released in Britain and shot to number one there. A few months later, Columbia Records signed them to a North American deal and What Makes You Beautiful was released in America in February 2012 and was followed by their first studio album shortly after. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart and One Direction became the first British group to ever have their debut album enter the charts in the number one position.
Concerts and merchandise and appearances on the Today Show (where 15,000 fans, some of whom camped out for up to 5 days to get a good viewing spot, saw them perform) and an upcoming 3-D movie (to be released August 30 in America) followed the debut of their album. And it didn’t hurt their popularity that one of their members, Harry Styles, embarked on a very public (albeit very brief) relationship with American singing sensation, Taylor Swift.
(And can I confide that I’m embarrassed by how much I know about this group, considering I don’t have a teenage daughter madly in love with them?)
Anyway, these boys are not taking their celebrity for granted. They’ve partnered with Office Depot to parlay their boy-band-du-jour fame into doing some real good.
Early in June, Office Depot announced that it would carry a new product line of One Direction-branded school supplies. In a campaign called 1D + OD – Together Against Bullying, the items to be sold in Office Depot stores and online are notebooks, binders, journals, silicone wristbands, locker decals, pens and nail polish. (I’m not sure when nail polish became a school supply but if One Direction tells me it is, I’m in.)
Nothing is priced higher than $9.99 and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of all items will be directed towards an anti-bullying educational program.
Since we all hear too many instances of bullying in our schools today and since we recently talked on this site about Karen Klein who had been bullied by students on a school bus that she worked on as a bus monitor, it’s both refreshing and uplifting to see young people trying to do good instead of using their fame to try and take their pet monkey into Germany while on tour. (Bieber, I’m looking at you). So if your kid or your tween asks you to buy them some One Direction school supplies at Office Depot, I hope you’ll consider doing it. It will be money well spent.