Art That Moves
Sometimes a mailing comes together organically, with an inspirational story that connects with inspiring artwork and a powerful call to action. Such is the case with this mailing from the National Parkinson Foundation.
The mailing, sent in a #10 outer, features the story and art of José Bernal, a Chicago-based, internationally renowned artist who has had Parkinson's for more than 20 years yet continues to produce beautiful artwork. Every element of the mailing carries proof of Bernal's talents, featuring his artwork on the outer envelope, on each of the 40 address labels included in the mailing and on the reply device. The combination of Bernal's story of hope and his artwork gives the organization an effortless way to show-rather than tell-what can be accomplished by those with Parkinson's if they have support (Archive code #604-671525-0904).
"The personal story is kind of interesting because it wasn't just somebody who was in need, but somebody who really has continued to give back," Shaun Peterson, NPF's account executive at New River Communications, NPF's marketing consultant, says. "Even as he's struggled and had a lot of hardship with Parkinson's, he hasn't let that beat him or stop him from producing his art and doing his thing. It wasn't just sort of another sad story of somebody who's been beaten down."
The outer envelope features Bernal's artistic design of the organization's abbreviation, with a teaser running across the top that reads, "Inside: An accomplished artist's courageous struggle with Parkinson's disease ..." Inside, the double-sided letter explains that, despite the negative effects Parkinson's has on those who have it, it is not a death sentence, as evidenced by the accomplishments of Bernal, who, the letter says, recently donated 300 works of art to NPF to be auctioned to benefit the organization. His story leads to this powerful call to action: "I hope Jose's generosity - even as he battles this terrible disease - will inspire you to send a gift today so we can continue moving forward in our fight."
Larry Montali, creative director, co-owner and co-founder of New River Communications, says the mailing is in keeping with his firm's goal of putting the human face on and personalizing the organization's cause to get people's attention. "It has a heroic element to it," Montali says. "He's a guy who's not just taking, but he's giving, as well. We're big believers in the idea that the most successful packages are going to be donor-centric. ... They're not just big advertisements for the organization."
According to Peterson, this mailing had been the control acquisition package since August 2006, which is when it was tested-and won handily-against a labels package with more generic artwork that gave a more generic overview of NPF. The old control was pulling about a 1.4 percent response rate with a $16 average gift. The Bernal package bumped that up about 10 percent, to almost a 1.6 percent response rate. Peterson says while the average gift took a little bit of a slide down to about $15.50, the Bernal package cost $2.50 less to acquire a donor.
Montali also credits the success of the Bernal mailing to NPF's openness to letting his firm try new ideas. "Some organizations won't even consider letting you do anything with their logo. But NPF allowed us to take their logo and turn it into a pretty arty thing that catches the eye," Montali says. "They let us do this, and José's art and story lent itself to that idea. We took the elements and put them together to really make the story and the cause come alive."
Its Day in the Sun
As a result of fall testing, the Bernal labels package is no longer the control. Larry Montali, creative director of New River Communications, says the Bernal piece likely just was seen too many times by National Parkinson Foundation's list and exhausted its run-the organization was even using Bernal's art on back-end mug premiums in the mailing's heyday. The new mailing is a similar format, with a personal story, but the labels and the outer envelope employ generic art. "One of the things that we learned just from [the Bernal] package is that we needed to really focus on more personal stories," says Shaun Peterson, NPF's account executive at New River Communications. "So the package that [eventually] beat out this one is actually similar in nature as far as focusing on someone who actually has Parkinson's and is kind of struggling beyond that and really doing good work through the National Parkinson Foundation."