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Direct Mail Pieces Are Bad

And throwing the pieces in the recycling bin without really reading them still doesn't sooth the irritation.


When a stack of direct mail pieces are in my mailbox, I cringe! How and why do I receive a stack of high gloss-coated pieces of card stock of various shapes and sizes from companies like Ruby Tuesday’s and Dan Vaden Chevrolet?! The ones from the car dealership even have a car key attached because it fits in the ignition of the new car I’m supposed to retrieve from the lot. One day I plan to attempt to claim my new car, but I digress. There is at least one direct mail in my mailbox, either at work or at home… Every. Single. Day.

Saturday Night Live aired a piece on Direct Mail Marketers this past weekend to offer frustrated consumers like myself a little more insight to the madness that is direct mail. It proved to me that I’m not the only one with this distaste for direct mail. And throwing the pieces in the recycling bin without really reading them still doesn’t sooth the irritation.

Today, I had a different reaction……

Drew came to show me an ingenious and earth-friendly direct mail piece. It’s a promotional piece from Veer, a company that provides stock photography, illustration, typefaces, etc. for use in professional creative work, such as graphic design, motion design, advertising and film making. They wanted to announce their new batch of images and stock photography available to help creatives like Drew capture “green thinking” in the design work they do.

If direct mailing pieces HAD to exist, this is the standard by which their presence should be measured. Veer’s piece was so creative, I actually stopped to read the printed words – the soul purpose of this form of marketing – on the 7X5 piece (give or take) of cardboard. And here’s why:

1. The first thing that popped out at me were the assortment of what at first appear to be random words arranged on the back. The words had a debossed look to them, luring me to I actually read them. That, and the fact that they were obviously not printed in a conventional way.

2. Once I read the words (which were a mix of feel-good and feel-bad terms), I was drawn in even more to read the smaller print below. The smaller print basically reads that what is on the card explains what they’ve done to their new batch of green images, and suggests I go online to look at the reel. Then a smaller set of print instructs me to go outside because the sun will reveal a phrase on the card.

Here’s what I saw:


3. Not only is this phrase the inspiration of their green feature, but it doubles as an entry code to participate in a drawing to win Earth-friendly Veer merchandise.

4. By now I’m thinking “this is so cool…” so I turn it around to the address-label-side of the card were I notice that this was “printed on 100% recycled paper.” YAY!!!

This piece is going to skip the recycling bin altogether. It’s going to hang out on my desk for a while (before Susan snags it for her idea bank), giving Veer an increased chance of occupying my metal awareness a few times throughout the day. I already checked out the link ( they provided and watched the reel, which is very well done, by the way. Hey, I’ll probably even show it to a few other friends.

I think this direct mail piece gets a “A+” for achieving effective messaging delivered through a creative concept that was eco-friendly. All that’s missing is the key that is supposed to start my new car on some car lot somewhere.

Philip Joyner

Not only can the man stare down CSS code until it writes itself in sheer terror, but he is famous around 220 E. Hall St for what we like to call his “happy dance”. Few have seen it, and those who have can’t get enough.


3 thoughts on “Direct Mail Pieces Are Bad

  1. Xerxes Irani says:

    Thanks Angel!

    We REALLY appreciate your post on the Photo Synthesis campaign, your reaction was EXACTLY the reaction we were aiming for.

    Incase you were wondering, here is a link to how it was actually made:

    Please don’t hesitate to email me for more if Susan does indeed snag it from your desk!


  2. Eric says:

    That is a wonderful piece by Veer. I do find often that Veer and other paper companies put a lot of thought into the direct mail the send out – primarily because they are sending their material out to thoughtful/design-conscience people who measure effectiveness.

    I think Direct Mail in general is very poorly done. But i think part of the problem is the under-educated advertising industry. When we are asked to do a direct-mail piece we should educate our clients on the options and produce alternatives that will maximize our clients money. If they cannot afford a thoughtful, highly-creative piece like the one from Veer, then I would recommend reaching your audience by other means like group mail like Valpak(i know… but it works) or a specialty magazines (mainstream mags dont work either).

  3. Rod DeVar says:

    Hi Angel, thanks for sharing your outlook on Direct Mail. While not all mail pieces are memorable, I’m glad to see Veer’s promotional piece captured your attention. The most successful Direct Mail pieces come from companies who go the extra mile to produce a creative piece that truly connects with consumers. Also, the fact that Veer’s piece drove you to visit the company’s Web site is a great accomplishment.

    Made from recycled materials, Veer’s postcard reinforces the company’s commitment to doing business in a sustainable way, which can help attract more customers in today’s environmentally aware society. Did you know that studies have found consumers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that demonstrate their green commitment during a recession?

    Mail, especially the creative pieces, definitely offers an unparalleled opportunity to get your brand noticed and your customers to respond. A remarkable 81 percent of households either read or scan their advertising mail.

    Overall, I couldn’t agree more—this mail piece by Veer, much like their other pieces, is a true example of successful advertising mail.

    Rod DeVar
    Manager, Direct Mail
    United States Postal Service

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