Thou Shalt Devote More Brainpower to Promotional Mailings
I received a compass in the mail from a company that is hosting a trade show. It is a fairly elaborate compass – it is enclosed in a wooden box that is three inches tall and five inches wide, with a solid glass lid that opens to reveal a shiny compass.
The company also included a faux-passport with the compass. My photo is enclosed in this passport (it was taken off the Net). The passport highlights the trade show, which takes place in California, with the text “Head West!”
I’ve talked about crummy promotional items before, but I think it needs repeating. Either that, or the person who dreamed up the compass and passport nonsense needs to go back to my earlier column.
Now what’s wrong with the PR behind this particular promotional offering? From my perspective, here is where this stunt failed:
1. Enriching the USPS. The item was sent by First Class Mail, which as everyone knows is getting more and more expensive. Judging by the weight of the compass and assuming this was not designed just for me, I would think the mail tab would be fairly high. This is not PR money being well spent.
2. The passport may have seemed like a cute idea, but I personally have problems with people who reprint my photo without my permission. I was a little surprised to see myself inside the passport, then I was a little bothered that someone reused my photo without my okay. That was a bad move.
3. Now, really, why do I need a compass? Perhaps the PR rep confused me with Vasco de Gama? Or perhaps the PR planners thought it would be cute to use the compass to “direct” me to this trade show?
4. The mailing did not include anything about the show (I never heard of it) or its producers (ditto). The passport didn’t even have a web site for the show! Thus, the promotion becomes something of a mystery – one that I prefer not to solve.
The passport is going in the trash. The compass, because it is so heavy, will be used as a paperweight (I have no plans to consult it for travel directions). I suppose I will eventually throw it away when I have to clean my office.