Conveying the Starkness of ‘Forever’
When it comes to direct mail, there's nothing like a black outer envelope with reverse colored type to convey a harsh reality. Add a killer teaser like "Extinction is Forever" and you've got a TKO.
This heavyweight is the current control for the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based organization that works through science, law and creative media to secure a future for species hovering on the brink of extinction, which most recently mailed in May.
"The extinction message is so stark and final that we believed a black carrier would drive home the importance while also standing out in the mailbox," says Keri Dixon, membership director for the Center for Biological Diversity. A larger, 6" x 9" carrier-size envelope also was used to increase visibility, though Dixon adds that the organization is preparing to test a smaller carrier with the same format (Archive code # 610-640861-0907).
The mailing was first tested in February 2008, but it was the retests in January and March 2009 that firmly established it as the new control package. It's sent both to the center's core continuation lists for acquisition and to its activists, lapsed donors and lower-dollar members. Dixon says the teaser copy was not initially tested, but the message was a very clear choice when developing the lede—"Just how bad is the extinction crisis?"—and theme in the four-page letter printed on two 8-1/2" x 11-1/2" sheets of paper.
"It was dramatic, yet not overstated," Dixon says. "And it was direct about the issue without giving away the contents of the package."
For this mailing's outer, the desperate, three-word teaser is tempered by additional text to the right of the address window that sheds some hope on the situation: "There's still time to help save: the polar bear, jaguar, emperor penguin ... Sign the enclosed petitions today." The organization just tested only using the three-word teaser without the additional text and has plans to retest due to improved results.