What’s Wrong With This Ad?
This is personalization at its most brilliant. For as freelancer Richard Armstrong has pointed out:
The most important word in direct mail copy (aside from "free" of course) is not "you"—as many of the textbooks would have it—but "I." What makes a letter seem "personal" is not seeing your own name printed dozens of times across the page, or even being battered to death with a neverending attack of "you's." It is, rather, the sense that one gets of being in the presence of the writer … that a real person sat down and wrote you a real letter.
"In the marketplace, as in theater," wrote the legendary copywriter Bill Jayme, "there is indeed a factor at work called 'the willing suspension of disbelief.'"
It is almost believable that Fisk Johnson sat down at his grandfather's battered Remington and typed a message from his heart, telling me how much five generations of the Johnson family have cared about doing what's right for me and my family in terms of supplying us with household products.
The reader feels real good doing business with these folks.
Cost of the Ad
I checked the current PARADE rate card and discovered that a black-and-white page in Zone 5 (Del., Md., Pa., D.C., Va., W.Va.) with circulation of about 4 million would cost $137,600. Incidentally, PARADE will not accept an ad for less than 4 million of its circulation.
If Johnson decided to blanket the country—run the ad to the entire 32.2 million circulation—the cost would be $780,900.
For a company with $8.1 billion in annual revenues, the cost of an ad in PARADE is relative peanuts.
But I for one hate to see inefficiency.
Further, this past weekend the same effort appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Philadelphia Inquirer, which leads me to believe it very likely ran elsewhere. The ante has been upped dramatically.