A voucher mailing by Foreign Affairs is proof that sometimes, old controls don't die or fade away, they're just successfully refashioned for today's audiences. In the mail since at least December 2007, it's actually the second acquisition effort by the magazine to reach Grand Control status (Archive code #202-172919-1012 — see image in mediplayer at right).
The first one, written by the late Len Berkowe, was its circulation-building workhorse from 1982 to 2003. The black-ink teaser on the front of that cream-colored 6" x 9" outer set the tone for the entire package, asking "Should you be reading 'the most influential periodical in print'?"
The letter underwent major changes over those years, but regardless of the particular choice of words, always created the impression that the magazine was essential reading for those Americans who wanted to get a deeper (and exclusive) understanding of foreign policy. Its articles were written by "the brightest, best informed minds around," said one. Another version asked the prospective subscriber to picture himself in a room with distinguished experts discussing "the world's most critical problems." To bolster the upscale look, the four-page letter was printed on textured stock (as was the envelope), and had unusually wide margins.
Many of these appeals to prestige are echoed in the four-color brochure included in this current voucher offer. In one paragraph, it names the authors of recent articles (e.g., President Obama, Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton), noting their "wealth of expertise" — their sky-high name recognition probably doesn't hurt either. More explicitly than in the older letters, the direct benefits to the reader are spelled out. "Objective analysis and informed opinions" lead to "fresh thinking and new insights."
There's also a separate panel listing how past articles "saw it coming," that is, anticipated major international challenges, such as the budget deficit, and the rise of al-Qaeda. And, the magazine's switch a few years ago to a bit more color on its cover (from gray-and black to a glossy light blue with some red headlines) makes the brochure stand out.