When Everyone Else Went Big, They Went Small
In the years leading up to the turn of the century, it seemed direct mail packages were just getting bigger and bigger. Whether it was a general attempt to stand out from standard-sized mail pieces or a subconscious connection to the approach of the new millennium can be left up to debate, but one company made a conscious decision to go against the grain.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Progress, a subsidiary of Time Warner, began distributing these petite 4-3/4" x 6-1/2" packages to promote one of its magazine titles. That decision proved to be a success, and now the package is a template for other publications.
Joellyn Beckham, owner and creative director for Think Tank, an agency also based in Birmingham, explains why. "I was the creative director for Southern Progress at the time this piece was designed, in 1997. At that time everything else being mailed was 6" x 9". But those of us on the project wanted to do something that made sense for the upscale audience of Southern Accent magazine, something more like an invitation piece," Beckham recounts. "So, we sent out this mailing, which has since become a rotating control for that magazine. It's now the new control for Cottage Living, and it might still be a control for Coastal Living."
In June, those two variationsfor Cottage Living (Archive code #202-699948-0506) and Coastal Living (Archive code #202-403303-0506)appeared in the Who's Mailing What! Archive. Both mailings
include a 43/4" x 61/2" two-color envelope; a note-sized, two-page letter; a 41/4" x 6", three-panel brochure featuring lifestyle images; a fold-out reservation card with a "Free!" response sticker; and a BRE. Each piece is petite, delicately designed and possesses a feminine feel.
While the basic format remains the same for each title, some elements are changed. For instance, Coastal Living's envelope features a blue-and-white image of a model yacht on the table of a beach home, while Cottage Living features a quaint dining room scene in pink and white; these color schemes are carried to the interior of the packages as well. In addition, the copy in the letters is targeted for each title's audience, as are the lifestyle images in the brochure.
"What each of these packages does really well is sell the emotional appeal of the magazines," she says. "The letters serve as a note dashed off by the editor that gives a broad-brush view of the magazine, and the folded order card displays the cover of an issue of the magazine being promoted. Back in 1997, this was a very unusual package. It remains an unusual and attractive package, and I think it will continue to be."
Though Beckham currently is not involved in the creation of these mailings, she believes Southern Progress is using this template for at least three of its seven titles today, all of which are women-related. "This is something that works well with women's lifestyle or shelter magazines. It's geared toward women who take pride in a certain type of lifestyle, those who care and have respect for their homes and surroundings," Beckham explains.
She also expects Southern Progress will continue mailing this effort for some time. "It's an attractive, feel-good piece that's timeless," says Beckham. "It seems to be the perfect mailing for the type of audience being addressed."