Sports Illustrated, NFL Team Up for Control
For a publication driven by seasonal eventsor sports as is the case with Sports Illustratedyou might not expect to see football, clearly a seasonal sport, dominating its mailings year-round.
But Sports Illustrated's move to team up with the NFL for its direct mailings back in 2002 resulted in a winning NFL team choice control package and many subsequent spin-off test packages.
This long-term control is a 4" x 9" envelope effort consisting of a "Benefits Summary" voucher detailing the offer; a sticker chip with 32 NFL team stickers, which the respondent uses to select the team logo he would like on his hooded sweatshirt or long sleeve T-shirt premium; and a laminated NFL schedule freemium (Archive code #202-171634-0508B).
This package is mailed annually in February and from June through September. "Basically it's been doing really well for us, with the combination of the NFL schedules, the stickers. ... I think the package [does] so well because it's actually interactive," explains Karen Serrano, the publisher's marketing manager for direct mail.
The Archive has been receiving this mailing since its initial rollout in 2002, but in August, an interesting test effort appeared in the form of a plain, white 6" x 9" envelope (Archive code #202-171634-0508A).
Barring the size, the only element that differentiates this mailing from the control is its NFL schedule. In lieu of
inserting the laminated schedule card as it has done the last few years, this time Sports Illustrated glued a pop-out, perf-off, paper NFL schedule to the outer envelope's flap.
According to Serrano, the strategy behind this move was to ensure that the schedule was being noticedwith so many package components, the publisher wasn't sure if prospects were overlooking the schedule and felt that affixing it to the envelope would draw attention to it.
But this decision apparently has not resulted in much success, as response indicates that prospects prefer the laminated card. "But if I had to say on a scale of one to 10 how successful the pop-out schedule was10 being the winnerit's somewhere around eight. So it's not bad[but] it's not a 10," explains Serrano. "So we're still evaluating them, but it doesn't appear to be a winner for us."
According to Serrano, it seems more likely that the test package's flaw was the pop-out schedule and not the 6" x 9" envelope size that was selected to accommodate the pop-out. In fact, Sports Illustrated successfully has mailed at that size recently. "We're not going to be mailing the pop-out schedule again. That's not to say we won't be mailing [this] outer envelope. You may see that outer envelope again in our future mailings. We kind of haven't
decided yet," explains Serrano.