Top Mailing of the Week: Kiehl's Goes Andy Warhol on Us
The first week of each month, Paul Bobnak (archive director) and I personally sort through more than 1,200 pieces of direct mail that land in the Who's Mailing What! Archive. Each of us will pick out the most outstanding efforts (anywhere from a dozen to two dozen, depending on the month) and then meet for a couple of hours to discuss them.
Often, we'll choose efforts with the best creative, including use of copy, color or formats that seems particularly inventive and/or effective. Other times, we'll select an effort that represents a departure of some sort for the mailer, or perhaps represents a trend or mini-trend.
The latest effort from Kiehl's, the skin care company, actually belongs in all of the above (Archive code #910-699114-0911 — see thumbnail below). The 5? x 7? self-mailer arrives in two panels that are wafer-sealed on one side, and the cover immediately strikes you due to Andy Warhol-like use of graphic art alongside comic-book typeface. The face of a concerned young woman is shown, next to a blurb that says, "M-my skin deserves a second chance!" Underneath, it says "Wipe Out" and "The signs of skin damage."
The back of the outer keeps it simple but uses the same graphic font to mention the freemium sample inside. Opening the mailing reveals two panels covered with color and copy, alongside a small sample — Kiehl's ACAI Damage-Repairing Serum — prominently spot-glued toward the middle. The art design again brings to mind a comic book, including thought bubbles ("spots fade! lines reduced!" and even an "antioxidant comparison of common fruit" bar chart). A box explains the benefit of the acai berry.
Perhaps the one thing that doesn't work is the invitational copy tucked in yet another box: "We invite you to visit us at your neighborhood Kiehl's freestanding store for a personalized consultation and …" The copy is fine, but the comic-book font and smallish size doesn't allow this important copy to stand out next to everything else going on. Therefore, the offer for personalized consultation (and a deluxe-sized sample) for customers who bring in this mailer may be missed by many.
Nonetheless, it's an intriguing effort from Kiehl's, which does favor self-mailers heavy on graphics and pictures and freemiums. But this effort is by far its most extreme, and for the most part, it looks like it could be effective.