Becky Says...

May 2002

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May 31

A company learned a lesson this week: cute and catchy are in the eye (and ear) of the beholder.

The company of which I'm writing was soliciting business from various law firms. They decided to go with an ad campaign that was supposed to be cute and catchy. It involved a half-sized mailing tube that was solid black. The company was one with whom many firms already did business, and on the outside of the tube there was nothing to suggest that the contents might not be related to existing client matters.

I got caught by it when the first one came; it was addressed to an attorney who was indeed expecting mail from this company. I even went so far as to interrupt the attorney on his way out for lunch to open the tube---thinking the documents he needed had finally arrived. Subsequent ones went straight to the dumpster.

No, what was in the tube was at best annoying and at worst offensive. When one opened the tube, a sound chip started playing, a 5-4-3-2-1 spoken countdown to an explosive sound that we later realized was meant to go with the rocket pictured on the business card attached to the tube's top.

It all was supposed to announce the launching of a new division in the company. Instead, it convinced us that the company had been charging too much for their services. We weren't doing much business with them; when we needed the services they offered, we were usually using another company. We will continue to do business with our regular supplier---said regular supplier, incidentally, tends to advertise by much less intrusive methods involving things we can use, such as letter openers and travel mugs.

The company apparently caught some flak over the campaign, in light of people's nerves being on edge after September 11 and subsequent threats of terror by mail, not to mention that the thing could be considered tacky on a good day. Today's mail brought letters of apology to the attorneys in our firm to whom the tubes had been sent. This gesture may not get them much new business, but it may salvage their existing client base.

Good thing the apology letters arrived in plain envelopes.

Text copyright 2000-2002 Becky