Mail Activity Highlights: Merchandise
The world's most comprehensive library of direct mail, the Who's Mailing What! Archive, includes 31 categories within the merchandise sector, such as cosmetics, supplements, gardening, fashion and pet supplies. This month I'm focusing on automotive direct mail, which has been bludgeoned lately by the economy. With so many cars sitting on lots unsold, car companies are turning to new ways to bring in revenue, and the direct mail channel is a clear window into their recent activities. Some unusual partnerships are springing up, but the jury is out on how successful these will be. Also, with a customer base that is currently unlikely to purchase another car, automotive firms are using their customer loyalty programs to try to sell accessories like navigation systems and stereo systems.
Chevrolet gets the award for the most innovative, unusual and attractive mailing of the month. Alas, that triple whammy doesn't necessarily mean success. The glossy 6" x 9-1/2" self-mailer doesn't indicate Chevrolet at all on the outer, or even necessarily that it's promoting a car inside; instead, it's probably going out to part of the large Condé Nast mailing list, as the corner card lists Condé Nast Media Group. The copy reads, "An invitation to life in the fashionable lane" and lists nine of the Condé Nast magazines (one, Domino, is no longer in existence). The back of the outer is all black with three large cut-out circles in the middle that feature a women's high-heeled shoe, a car wheel and the same list of magazines; the copy reads, "Heels," "Wheels" and "Deal" above each circle and underneath touts, "Here's a great offer for women who move in style" (Archive code #361-171913-0812).
Opening up the mailing reveals three large panels, two of which feature the Chevy Traverse and the Chevy Malibu, and encourage prospects to visit the promo's shoprockandroll.com URL to take a "virtual test drive" and "get a six-month subscription to the fashion and style publication of your choice from Condé Nast." The copy underneath each car strains to show the fashion connection; for the Chevy Malibu hybrid, it reads "why drain your paycheck on gas when you could be loading up instead on sweater dresses, knee-high boots and skinny jeans?" Gee, guess the Chevy marketers didn't get the "bad economy" memo or understand that this copy is borderline offensive.