Famous Last Words: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot (Again)
The 2006 Call for Entries
This year’s effort is even more of an embarrassment and disrespectful of Caples and the art and craft of direct marketing. (Disclosure: Target Marketing is a sponsor of the Caples awards program.) The coffee-stained memo was sent to Jerold Heisler, a 45-year veteran of the business. It bore the following message in big black Pentel hand lettering: “Jerold, saved this from the trash — it seems that you’re hotter than backstage at a bikini contest.” Heisler e-mailed me the piece along with a copy of the note he sent to the Caples committee that said in part:
While I am no prude, this is one of the most tasteless mailings I have received in a long time. One paragraph reads as follows: “Legend has it that one of Jerold’s direct mail pieces was so good that the recipient’s wife left him for the mailman. In my next life I’m coming back as an envelope so Jerold can lick me.”
While I did not know John Caples, no doubt he would be ashamed to have a mailing like this go out under his name, and I believe you also should be ashamed.
Beyond this poor copy is the fact that you’re soliciting me because I supposedly have an agency that does outstanding creative work. The fact is, I do not have an agency and spent my career in the list business doing consulting and training. That’s a fact that should be readily obtainable from the DMA database.
Our industry seems intent on shooting ourselves in the foot.
At the bottom of this “cute, clever” memo is another big black Pentel message:
“They’re calling you the midwife because you always deliver!"
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter. Visit him at www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.