Direct Mail Spotlight: The Economist
Writing about the economic downturn in a direct mail package can be a sensitive subject. To date, only a handful of direct marketers have attempted to do so and gotten it right. You don't want to remind consumers of how bad things are and get them in a penny-pinching state of mind when you are trying to promote your product or service. But if your product or service provides added value to protect consumers during a downturn, then the faltering economy can, in effect, become a selling point.
For The Economist, a weekly magazine reporting on world news, it's almost impossible to write a direct mail package without addressing the economy, especially when the current financial crisis is in every headline and on the tip of consumers' tongues. In its recent acquisition test package, dropped in late December to more than 100,000 prospects, The Economist opens its package with an image of the magazine rising above economic turmoil and carries the theme inside the package as well.
"We haven't shied away from talking about the economy because it's a narrative in the magazine. This is what our magazine is all about, and therefore, we don't feel we have to shy away from it ... but we just have to do it carefully. We are not out there to depress people, nor are we out there to be alarmists. We're out there to tell them this is clearly what you're thinking about and want to know more about, and we have it," explains Alan Press, the magazine's SVP of marketing for the Americas.
The 5" x 7" self-mailer features an image by The Economist illustrator, Kevin Kallaugher, of a boat, carried by a hot air balloon, rising above a sea full of churning waves and near capsized boats. The hot air balloon reads, "The Economist," and the copy below the image says, "Weathering storms since 1843." "It is really just trying to get across the fact that since 1843, The Economist has helped people address the world and make sense of complicated times," Press says.