the grass is greener on the internet

A direct mail I wouldn’t vote for
March 19, 2010, 9:07 am
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As you may know, South Australia is in the grips of an election. The choices are the super-slick media-savvy Premier of 8 years (aka Mike Rann) and new kid on the block Isabelle Redmond.

Both are struggling with trust issues; one an alleged sex scandal and the other hardly in the public consciousness until last year.

Enough background; in a nutshell, it will be a close contest.

It’s in this situation that I opened my mailbox a couple of days to find several plain envelopes, one for everyone in the family. And who is it from but…Mike Rann!

What have I done to deserve such an honour? Been ethnic, apparently…

Mike askes that I endorse his friend for the Legislative Council, a Vietnamese immigrant who ‘does know what it is like to hop into a rickety boat […] master a new language and relearn all those things you need to survive in the modern world’. (There is a handwritten postscript saying Mike’s friend is both hardworking and courageous in case you weren’t sure.) Mike is delighted that his friend wants to run for Parliament, to be a key member of the team and represent all people from non-English backgrounds…

…serving a secondary purpose of trying to convince a migrant population that all you have to do is tick the ‘ALP’ box at the top of the voting form.

I don’t know whether to be impressed or sick.

I assume that this DM was sent out to everyone with particular surnames. You need to suck up to everyone in politics, but it seems to me that there are a lot of migrants who will be less educated about Australian politics and more open to manipulation. (His wordy 1 page letter would be challenging for those of us with poorer language skills, but luckily there is a Chinese version on the back.) For Asians relationships are important – we like friends in important places.  It may well gain him some of the votes.

The final straw for me is the encouragement to use this one guy as a reason to vote the entire party in. I’m half of the mind that even if I wanted to vote for him, I would feel too manipulated to be able to do it.

Am I the only person who thinks that if you need this much spin to distract from your policies it’s not a good sign?

But let us be fair, it happens on both sides. I for one am still suffering mental recoil from the rather arresting interview headline “Redmond bares all”.

Less PR, more policies, please!


If you seek AMI
June 25, 2009, 7:57 pm
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Let’s do a little word association. Just let the first responses flow.


DM –

World War I –

If you’re anything like me** your responses might be something along the lines of; ‘do you want longer lasting SEX?’, ‘direct message on Twitter’ and ‘the last scene from Gallipoli’.

Hence my confusion that AMI sent me a DM with a World War I theme.


So I opened it:

AMI letter

What they want you to see:

The heroic charge in a last-ditch battle. The potential for miraculous recovery against the odds. The triumph of those who give it all they’ve got. The Aussie battler winning out with that true-blue digger spirit. A letter to spark intrigue.

What I see:

A letter which isn’t addressed to me. Details of events I am not historically knowledgeable enough to recognise. Amazingly good handwriting. Blah blah blah. What?

What would Ogilvy say?

Where is the call to action? What kind of direct response marketer are you? I don’t even know what this is for. Change that copy now. *sounds of a red pen scratching violently*

I can accept that they still like direct mailers. I can accept that the metaphor is, on deeper contemplation, potentially inspiring for marketers in the current economic climate.

But I just can’t accept that this is the best direct mail AMI can do. If I hadn’t known about the theme of their conference (yes, it’s for a conference) already I would have been completely confused. Not every recipient is going to be a curious uni student like me with the time and inclination to write a 500 word rant discourse on the subject.

Why did they do this to themselves??

A small indication of why they chose this medium might be found in the fact that they are sponsored by AusPOST, which has been trying to push the direct mailer revival. So much so that they’ve just introduced this new form; a piece of paper that folds in half and sticks to itself, whilst remaining easy to peel but not sticky to the touch. It’s like a post-it note, but 30 years later.

This particular sample has also been sent around to businesses as an example of the new product, as I found out from the marketing manager for an international retail chain…once I’d jogged his memory by blathering on about it for several minutes.

I am guessing that this mailer was done either heavily discounted or free. The AMI may think there’s no costs…but they just spent their credibility.

I am saddened to add that it was an AMI rep that asked me, on seeing my business card, whether I work for WordPress…

I want to like you AMI, I really do. But sometimes I have difficulties taking you seriously as a professional body and I know I’m not the only one.

**Hopefully for you this is not the case, but for argumentative purposes I request that you degrade yourself a little.

Green-wash my DM
August 27, 2008, 3:50 pm
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Further to my post yesterday on the concept of making marketing communications greener, the Direct Mail Special Report from May’s AdNews tells me that some companies are trying to make direct mail a little more eco-friendly.

I have to admit that I’d never heard of carbon neutral paper before…and I’m just a little curious as to how you calculate it (do they take into account the carbon absorption lost by the trees cut down?) but Paperlinx/Australian Paper claims that their new range, [go green with] Envi, is another way to ease that corporate guilt. They’re accredited by the Australian Department for Climate Change’s ‘Greenhouse Friendly’ scheme, which has to count for something, but I’d still like to see their calculations.

Meanwhile, other suggestions for getting green with your DM include, using non-toxic inks, waterless printing and reducing waste by recycling where possible.

But hopefully, as the whole report tries to sell, if direct mailers are becoming more targeted and better at engaging consumers, there won’t be much waste at all. [Personally, I will directly bin anything that is addressed to ‘the homeowner’ purely out of distaste.]

You know you’re a marketing geek when…

…I was waiting in line at one of my favourite cafes today and amusing myself by looking at their miniature cakes, which they’re known for. These cakes both come in a smaller and larger version, with a substantial price difference between them. One of the types of cake is a lamington which is decorated with hand-shaved coconut. I happened to notice that the shavings on the smaller cakes were much larger than those on the larger ones. My first thought? Is this a marketing ploy to make people feel like the smaller cakes are ‘too small’ so that they upgrade?