Archive Observations: A Good Time To Look Back
Amidst the market turbulence in October, a number of mailings stopped offering free reviews of finances and investments. Instead, they are providing services to reassure prospects and help alleviate any financial stress.
Union Bank of California notes in its letter that ". . . in today's economy, you want to be sure to protect everything you've worked so hard for." The package, mailed in a #10 envelope, includes a three-panel brochure (opening to 8-1/2" x 11") reassuring the prospect of the bank's safety. Details about FDIC account limits, insurance and safety deposit boxes provide back up for the powerful keywords used: stability, security, and protection. As an incentive to visit a local branch for a "Financial Security Review," the letter includes a certificate for a free copy of Quicken Home Inventory Manager software (Archive code #537-672151-0810). An invitation-style offer from Fidelity Investments, mailed in a 5-1/2" x 7-1/2" OSE, promises confidence in the assistance provided by a company representative in developing a new plan and rebalancing one's portfolio. It was mailed several times in 2008 (Archive code #778-174076-0810).
On a side note, for the first time in 10 years of managing the Who's Mailing What! Archive, I've seen a offer from Ameriprise Financial specifically targeting women and their investment concerns. The teaser on the #10 OSE asks "How can you plan for the future when you're planning for everyone else's?" The letter inside, by Ameriprise's Executive VP Kim Sharan, elaborates on that fear. She identifies with the concerns faced by working mothers (lower wages, less time in the workforce) and offers a free copy of a retirement planning guide (Archive code #778-174399-0810).
Crossing The Line
Over the last 20 years, illegal immigration to the United States has been a hot button issue for many conservative nonprofits. Direct mail campaigns on this topic have usually covered a wide variety of concerns, like jobs, national security, amnesty or English as a national language. But in recent months, the fate of two Border Patrol agents has become a cause to rally support and raise money for border security organizations.
The facts are these: Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler in 2005 near El Paso, and tampering with evidence; they received lengthy, mandatory prison sentences. This set off a firestorm of protests by some conservative groups, seeing this case as a powerful symbol of the border problem.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation is blunt in its letter: "These men deserve medals for their heroic action" (Archive code #601-546647-0810). Likewise, American Border Patrol charges that the prosecution sends the wrong message, "Demoralizing our U.S. Border Patrol and undermining their ability to secure our borders" (Archive code #601-711907-0810). And, the Liberty Committee warns that "These men may not survive long where they are" (Archive code #601-698339-0810). All three campaigns mailed in #10 OSEs and included petitions to the President and Congress. Instead of a specific bill or general policy shift, however, all demanded a full pardon.
These efforts, as well as lobbying by politicians in both major parties, apparently had some effect. On January 19, 2009, as one of his last actions in office, President George W. Bush commuted (not pardoned) the sentences of the two agents.
Grand Control Update & Profile
The newest Grand Controls (controls in the mail for three or more years) added to the Archive in October include mailings by the American Jewish Committee (Archive code #609-173002-0810), Amnesty International (Archive code #601-171583-0810), AMVETS (Archive code #601-174060-0810), Boy Scouts of America (Archive code #613-174418-0810), CARE (Archive code #171594-0810), Progressive Insurance (Archive code #420-638121-0810) and San Diego Rescue Mission (Archive code #611-704142-0810).
The Grand Control for I.D. magazine, in the mail since at least June 2004, positions it as the authority in covering the world of product design. Mailed in a 6" x 9" envelope, a Johnson Box on the two-page letter stands out with a yellow highlighter-type background and a boast: "Many of the world's best designers start with I.D. And end up in I.D." It goes on to describe the magazine's role as an authority on excellence in the field, and even claims that a subscription is a "career imperative." Those words are supported by a brochure that folds out to 11" x 17". The panels show various products covered in past issues, paying special attention to new concepts and materials, environmental trends and digital technology. A small insert notes that the annual review issue, when sold separately on newsstands, costs more than the subscription itself would. Although the copy in this package has changed little over the years, the photos used on the OE, brochure, order form and insert all show updated products and pages from recent issues (Archive code #205-177599-0810).