DM Gaffes

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We do a lot of advertising at our company, particularly with direct mailings. Those nice glossy campaign flyers that've been filling up your mailbox the last few months? Those are direct mailings.

And usually ours are nice and glossy, too. With nice copy written and/or edited by yours truly and pretty pictures and so on.

We're on the lookout for new ways to make our DMs more appealing, which for us usually means writing nicer copy and using prettier pictures. Other DMs can be a bit nastier, such as the piece we received from Charter this morning that arrived in a threatening envelope marked with the even-more-threatening message Open Immediately and written in an ominous bold-condensed font. Was something wrong? Was a payment overdo? Worse, had someone hacked our account? We ripped it open. It was an ad.

The ad's certainly effective, because we were spooked into opening the envelope, but upon reading its contents and realizing it was an ad, we were pretty incensed, so we threw it in the trash.

Maybe the offer was really good, maybe it would have saved us a lot of money on our bills, but we didn't like being fooled, so we didn't bother to find out. And we imagine this is the reaction most people would have.

So this is a pretty bad ad campaign. Charter's use of intimidation is a clever way of getting the recipient to open the envelope, which is the biggie when you're running a DM campaign that uses envelopes (as opposed to flyers like the ones that've been filling up your mailbox the last few months), but it's a cheap trick, and once we understood that we were in no mood to read the ad.

But let's back up; we just wrote, "this is a pretty bad ad campaign"--that's a moral judgment; the ad itself is very effective. We also wrote, "we were in no mood to read the ad"--is anyone ever in the mood to read an ad?

It stuck in our mind; it doesn't matter how we felt when we saw it--we remembered it, that's what's important. In fact, it stuck with us so bad we dedicated an entire post to it. More to the point, we've already fished it from the trash.

Anyone out there have any stick-in-the-mind ads to share?