Parade Publications

Denny's Zinger: The M.O.T. Measurement of Economy
November 5, 2014

Back in the last century, the way to sell kitsch—useless stuff bought on impulse—was to place a mail order ad in TV Guide. It was a cathedral of junk, stuffed full of opportunities to acquire

Do the Obvious!
July 1, 2012

One of the savviest women I know is a lawyer at an A-list Philadelphia law firm. Recently, she invited a new young male associate to join her to observe a meeting with two very important clients.

Six Jolts of Sheer Delight
October 11, 2011

Many mornings around 4:30 I am awakened by the clack and thump of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times coming through the mail slot downstairs and hitting the floor. I don’t like these two suppliers of my morning news.

The type is smallish and the news perpetually grim: endless and expensive wars in three third-world countries, terrorist threats, Washington mired in name-calling and gridlock, massive unemployment, poverty, $14.8 trillion national debt, hurricanes, floods, droughts, starvation and earthquakes on a planet rebelling against our appalling stewardship.

Yet over a mid-September weekend these two dreary rags—plus a fascinating email offer—gave me six jolts of sheer delight.

Can you do as much for your customers?

What’s Wrong With This Ad?
May 11, 2010

Every weekend I receive PARADE as an insert in my Philadelphia Inquirer. Being a direct marketing junkie, I scan it for the bright, busy full-page coupon ads from:

  • Bradford Exchange: Disney and Elvis plates and figurines, coins and Thomas Kinkade artistic kitsch
  • Lenox: Sculptures and Christmas ornaments
  • MBI/Easton Press: Sports collectibles, die-cast model cars and leather bound books
These ads are colorful with powerful offers, great graphics and immediately involving copy. They are masterpieces of their genre.

It was with astonishment that I came across a black-and-white full-page ad in PARADE looking for all the world like a personal note from a member of the Johnson family that makes well-known household products—Windex, Ziploc, Drano, Saran wrap, Fantastik and Pledge furniture wax to name a few. The body copy is set in a courier font that looks like it was generated on an ancient office Remington. At the bottom is a faded snapshot—presumably of the author—that could be the product of Kodak Brownie Box Camera from the 1930s. 

You can read the entire text of the ad in the section titled "IN THE NEWS" to the right. And if you click on the illustration in the mediaplayer, you’ll see what the ad looks like.

Running a retro black-and-white ad amid PARADE's brash color is what they call in show business "casting against type."

The question: Is this a smart way for an advertiser to spend his money?

Direct Mail Spotlight: Disneyland Resort
September 17, 2009

Direct mailers who love self-mailers love them because they're produced quickly and cost effectively, eliminate the problem of getting the envelope opened, and can really support a lot of creative that wouldn't normally fit into a typical direct mail package.

Disney's Self-Mailer Rolls Out Value
September 1, 2009

Direct mailers who love self-mailers love them because they're produced quickly and cost effectively, eliminate the problem of getting the envelope opened, and can really support a lot of creative that wouldn't normally fit into a typical direct mail package.

Two Iconic Business Models That Failed — 2
January 9, 2008

In 2001-2002 I did some consulting with Arbitron--the company that measures the listenership of radio stations around the country. It sent out little pocket diaries and asked people to keep track for a week of what they listened to on the radio. I traveled several times to the Arbitron HQ in Columbia, Maryland where I had meetings with various department heads and wrote and designed some promotional material. On a ZipDisk somewhere might be the creative work I did. But my experience working with Arbitron is hazy at best. What is not hazy is that several months after we parted company, I received

Wells Fargo 2.0
January 1, 2008

At its founding, Wells Fargo & Co. gained success by harnessing the Old West. The venerable bank is having a similar experience today, harnessing another wild frontier — the Internet and, in particular, the Web 2.0 space.

Anatomy of a Control: The Washington Post's Perfect "10"
July 1, 2005

By Don Mahoney On Dec. 6, 1881, Stilson Hutchins launched his "Democratic daily journal," which he named The Washington Post. Volume 1, Number 1 was four pages on rag paper. It cost 3 cents, had a circulation of 10,000, and reporters traveled about by foot, hack, horse and buggie, and highwheeled bicycle. The newspaper type was hand-set from the longhand copy of reporters and editors. Over the last 123 years, The Post has grown into one of the most recognized news organizations in the world, covering local, national, and international news and features, as well as the worlds of sports, finance and