Is this a trend?

Click on image to view larger.

Here's another "copy-driven" ad. All type, no graphic other than the Boys & Girls Clubs of America logo. If you visit the organization's web site at www.bgca.org, you'll see a very attractive and highly visual home page. There's plenty of visual fodder on the site around which to build a space ad for this organization. Which leads me to ask are we seeing a trend of more copy-driven ads nowadays and why? To save on photo fees? It behooves a direct marketer to create ads that stand out from the clutter - and especially in newspapers where you have a sea of type with scads of articles on virtually every page, why would one shun a photograph or some other attention-getting graphic?

But the ad shown above, which appeared in the business section of USA Today yesterday, sure does start off great. What a fabulous headline:


Then come over 30 lines of Courier type, some of which I greatly admire.

This Boys & Girls Clubs of America ad does a few things right, as opposed to the copy-driven ad for Hyatt Place featured in a previous post.

At least the type in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America ad is easy-to-read black. And while Courier tends to be a highly legible font, it is a bit lightweight for the grainy newsprint paper. (You have to consider the paper an ad is printing on when designing it.) 

And while the copy in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America ad is well-written, I would have cut the opening and started the ad with the sentence in the 2nd paragraph:

"When a local youth agency fails, there are no severance packages. No bonuses. No second chances. Just scores of children with one less haven to turn to during non-school hours."

Adding a photo to this ad might have given the message a little more weight. But this is major - the call to action at the bottom should have DEFINITELY been set in BOLD type to help make it stand out and drive response.

What do you think? Could this ad use a visual? Is Courier the right font for this? What about a different kind of layout? Maybe an "open letter" look, where the ad would appear on letterhead, signed by the president of the organization? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Hyatt Place Space Ad Gone Wrong

If you thought this ad was hard to read, then you are not alone. The headline/offer/first sentence is so long that I stopped reading about 1/3 of the way into this ad. It's easy to miss the main message; it's all the way at the bottom, under the logo: "Only 3 days to save 30%. Call 888 HYATT HP or visit HPLimitedTimeOffer.com." 

Yes, bad typesetting can kill an ad. This was supposed to be one of those ads that are "copy driven." After all (thinks the Account Executive/Marketing Strategist/Creative Director), prospective customers for Hyatt Place are educated. High brow. They read long copy. Right? Maybe. So they will read this, right? Maybe not.

Talk about reader-unfriendly colors for the type. I would have went with the burgundy type for the majority of the headline-as-body-text (it's darker, easier to read) and used the lighter "ochre" color for the "highlights." At the very least. But take a look at the Hyatt Place logo. It's chock-full of color:
Why not pick up something more springy, like say the periwinkle, lime green or robin's egg blue? 


Now there's only 1 day left to get the 30% off. Hurry! Act now! : )


Is Discover Card reading my blog?

Sometimes it feels like somebody's watching me. And I don't mean those big eyes from the GEICO TV spot. 

Is seems like the folks at Discover Card read my post yesterday. Because look what came in my email today:

Now that's upping the ante! 


What's New In Credit Card Offers?

I'm torn. Should I get this card and forget about the measly 1% cash back bonus Discover gives? 

A direct mail package recently came in the mail from Fidelity, telling me that the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card is designed to help bring me closer to my investment goals - with a whopping 2 points (2%) for every dollar in net retail purchases.

The specifics:  For every 5,000 points ($2,500 in purchases), a $50 deposit can be automatically deposited into a designated, eligible Fidelity account - or I can redeem points for gift cards, merchadise and more through the WorldPoints program ... with no cap or limit on the amount of points or rewards I can earn.

And there's no annual fee.

Not a bad deal - especially in this economy! 

In the direct mail package I received from Fidelity, the 2% is printed on the outer envelope and in the letter headline, which captured my attention - and I'm sure it will capture others. Let's see if this card takes off. I have a feeling it will!


A Nickel For Your Thoughts

I just received this mailing from the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) association. The organization is well known in the direct mail community for its fundraising packages featuring address labels as a gift for donations. This package stood out in the mail for it's size (5" x 11.5") and the fact that it not only contained the usual address labels, but also a real, live nickel.

It's been a while since I've seen any nickel (or penny) kits, as we in the direct mail biz like to call them. For many clients, these kits are too expensive to produce UNLESS you have a huge mailing list, which the PVA undoubtedly has. At small quantities, packages with real, live coins tipped on can be extremely cost-prohibitive. But at larger quantities, and when you count in vendor relationships with the client/agency producing the kit, it's entirely possible to come in at budget.

The coin acts as a kind of envelope opener - much the same way a plastic card works to get envelopes opened. 

(At one time, I seem to remember some direct marketers shying away from inserting coinage into kits and showing the "money" through the envelope, because there was a wave of undeliverable mail and suspicion/reports of kits being "stolen" to collect the change.)

Nevertheless, the creative challenge that comes with the execution of a successful nickel or penny kit is in how you tie the coin to the offer. In this PVA package, that challenge is met two ways:

1) With some great letter copy! From the headline to the close of the letter ("For many of these vets who are down to their last few nickels, Paralyzed Veterans of America - and you - are their last hope!), the copy works to persuade the recipient to make a donation.


2) With an extra push of a yellow sticky note, affixed to the business reply envelope, which echoes the letter's P.S. ("P.S. Even if you can't send a gift today, please return the enclosed nickel as a symbol of your support - Paralyzed Veterans of America needs every nickel to continue to provide vital services to veterans who have sacrificed so much in the service of our country.")

Another fine example of fundraising done right. Kudos to the PVA creative team for a well-put-together nickel kit.


Temple University's Latest Fundraising Effort

Is it me, or does this email sound - at first - like it's coming from a student who is hearing disabled? Here, let me "read" it to you - since the above image is way too small (or click on the image for a larger view):
Dear Ms. Maniglia,

As a current Temple University student, I use many different types of technology and campus resources to enhance my education. Of them all, one of the most important is the headset I use as a Temple Telefund caller. My headset allows me to call alumni, parents and friends to encourage the Temple community to stay involved with the university.

I have been trying to contact you from the Telefund, but have been unable to reach you. As a student with a part-time job, I completely understand how busy life can get. If you could spare just a few minutes the next time one of my peers or I call, we can share campus news with you, update your information and let you know about great ways you can stay involved at Temple.

We look forward to speaking with you during this year's Telefund!


Temple Student Caller

All gifts made to Temple through December 31, 2009 will be credited toward Access to Excellence: The 125th Anniversary Campaign for Temple. Learn more at www.temple.edu/accesstoexcellence.

Temple University · 1938 Liacouras Walk · Philadelphia, PA 19122 · (215) 204-1001 
I had to read the opening paragraph about three times for some reason. Clever copywriting in that it could possibly "trick" some people into donating, thinking they are helping the hearing disabled. But also potentially misleading and capable of pissing off potential alumni donors big time.

The problem is a disconnect between the first sentence and the second - and probably the third sentence too. And maybe the rest of the letter. The copy doesn't say how the headset and the Telefund enhance the student's education. I don't really care if the headset is important to the student, unless of course he or she is hearing disabled. Maybe he or she is? I'm feeling sort of guilty for not answering their calls lately...

There's no mention in the letter about a donation (unless you count that little footnote at the bottom), just about "ways I can stay involved," and all I'm being asked is to spare a few minutes to talk to this student, who will no doubt be wearing his or headphone - which somehow enhances his or her education.

I must tell you - actually I CAN'T tell you - how many calls from Temple University I've received in the past month that we haven't answered because they invariably come while we're enjoying our dinner.

Sure, I've received great fundraising efforts from Temple in the past, like the one where they tipped on a HUGE magnet (the thing must have been 5" x 5") to the inside of a cool brochure. And I've given in the past ... which is obviously why they keep hounding me now. But this email and their persistent calls have me, well, confused and miffed.

Sorry, Temple - better luck next fundraising drive. You can call me mean if you want to.

Thanks for stopping by