A Beginning Trend?
Companies that send billions of pieces of mail each year have to contend with the likelihood that their outers are going to be recognizable if they don't switch up their creative approaches.
In highly competitive markets in which offers are quickly copiedsuch as credit card marketingit becomes increasingly difficult for firms to base their creative strategies on the old-fashioned approach of leading with features and benefits.
Thus the need for stealth mail, like this recent WMW! Archive entry from Capital One. The handwriting-like font, address label and faux meter mark combine with a card-size yellow outer to mimic the look of a greeting cardbut there's no card inside. Instead, the contents are the usual trappings of a credit card offer: letter with application; disclosures flier; buckslip with choice of card designs; and a BRE.
Never mind the two references to Capital One and the bar code. When the status of direct mail is decided in seconds as people review their daily mail, a mere glance determines this mailing to be personal before the rest of the outer's elements can be scrutinized.
The same is true of a December mailing from telecom giant AT&T. No stranger to direct mail that adopts a greeting card persona (see Inside Direct Mail's Nov. 2002 issue, page 6, for an analysis of a Hallmark greeting card for AT&T), the marketer takes a step forward in convincing prospects that its marketing communiqué is a greeting card.
While this effort uses a First-Class presort stamp for greater authenticityalong with the hand-writing computer font for the address blockit's the return address label featuring a snowman that gives this effort it's best shot at being confused for a holiday card. It is a bit odd for holiday cards to come from P.O. Box addresses, but some consumers use them, and there are no clues that indicate this mailing came from AT&T.
The recipient was definitely fooled, in more ways than one: Upon pulling the card from the envelope, she noticed what looked like the edge of a check peeking out. The expectation was that a relative sent a gift of money. Imagine her disappointment when she realized the check was really a voucher from AT&T to induce her to switch her phone service.
The intro to the letter attached below the check voucher reads: "They're on your mind and in your heart. Close friends who live far away. Family who'd love to hear from you." And family from whom you'd apparently love to receive cash gifts!
In all seriousness, it's a curiosity: Does the recipient feel deceived and build ill will toward the marketer, or does she feel embarrassed by her assumption of a gift coming her way as well as reminded that she might not even have called this loved one recently?
Neither AT&T nor Capital One comments on their direct marketing activities, so we'll keep an eye out for further uses of this creative approach.