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Help Save Direct Mail

Direct mail is only boring if you let it be boring.

Toronto, Ontario based agency Lowe Roche found a way to spice up their direct mail campaign for Pfaff Porsche by taking a Porsche 911 and parking it in front of mansions in the Rosedale, Forest Hill and Bridle Path neighborhoods of Toronto.

Pfaff Porsche Direct Mail Ad

Lowe Roche then took a picture of the car while it was parked in the driveway of each home, and used that picture as the focal point of a custom direct mail piece they created for each home on the fly.

In addition to the car, Lowe Roche also brought along their own photo editor, printer and runner, so they were able to create and print each piece of direct mail right there on the spot, and skip the process of organizing, labeling and mailing each flyer.

The results speak for themselves: Of the homes that received the direct mail ad, 32% booked a test drive online.

What’s surprising is not that this campaign worked. Of course a family that receives a piece of mail with a picture of their own home on the front is going to pay attention to it. And when that picture includes a hot sports car, they’re going to generate some interest.

What’s surprising is how easy the concept was to create. They made a template, they took similar photos of each home, and kept the offer simple. By eliminating as many complications as possible, they were able to create the ads at scale, and give them just enough personalization to be effective.

So considering how easy it was to create, why can’t this same concept scale to something even bigger?

With digital printing, there’s no setup required to create a direct mail piece at scale, so printing costs shouldn’t be a factor. (Sure, each ad is going to cost a little more to print than a typical direct mail ad, but not so much more that it would eliminate the ROI of a reasonably targeted campaign.)

If you wanted to mirror their technique and use an image of each recipient’s house, a technology like Google’s Street View would give you the images you’d need to customize each ad, but why limit the concept to just photos? For example, look at what Absolut was able to do with customizable printing to create a series of nearly four million bottles that were each individual and unique:

So what about using a similar process to create a direct mail ad that’s also a unique piece of art?

This process would be especially effective for companies that have good data about their direct mail recipients, and can customize it beyond just their address.

For example, it’s well known that Target has a huge amount of data on their Target Card holders, and they use that data to customize the types of offers that their customers receive.

So what if, instead of coupons, you sent customers an ad that is customized to the types of things you know they like? Think ad libs for print ads.

The goal here shouldn’t be to create an exact duplicate of the campaign that Lowe Roche created. Instead, the goal should be to get inspired by their creativity, and to think of ways to customize your own advertising to achieve the success that they created.

Just because something has always been done one way, doesn’t mean there isn’t another way that might work even better.

Lay’s Potato Chip Vending Machine

Lays Machine

Lay’s Potato Chips contain just three ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. However, in a world where ingredient lists frequently cover half a product’s packaging, and ingredients themselves are 20 character contractions that even scientists struggles to understand, it’s safe to say that most people assume a snack food like potato chips must contain a smorgasbord of unnatural ingredients and chemical byproducts in order to taste so good.

To prove them wrong, Castro, an agency out of Argentina, developed a special vending machine the turns raw potatoes into bags of potato chips right before your very eyes.

Lays Machine Detail

Upon entering a store where the vending machine is on display, consumers are handed a potato with a sticker on it that directs them to take the potato to the snack isle and insert it into the Lay’s machine.

Once dropped into the machine (which only accepts potatoes; no coins allowed) a movement sensor triggers a one-minute video that walks consumers through the six-step process of creating a potato chip: Washing, Peeling, Cutting, Cooking, Salting and Packaging. A light-up guide highlights each step, and at the end of the process, a finished bag of Lay’s Potato Chips pops out of the machine.

What’s most impressive is that Castro even took care of the small details, such as a heater that warms each bag so that it comes out feeling like a freshly cooked potato. Details like that are often overlooked, but really go a long way towards completing the experience for the consumer, and helping the message sink in.

While some criticize the fact that a video is used instead of a tiny potato chip factory, because a video doesn’t support the message of being 100% natural, I think most consumers are impressed enough by the experience, and that the added headache of building a real potato chip factory inside the vending machine would not be worth the marginal increase in amazement. (It would just take one wild potato spilling hot oil all over the inside of the machine to cause a cleanup mess big enough to halt the whole idea

Burger King Lets People Sacrifice Friendships For Whoppers

Whopper Sacrifice

How much would a company have to pay in order for you to publicly denounce ten of your friends?

As Burger King has discovered, there are plenty of people that are willing to do just that for a surprisingly small amount: Less than $3, or the price of a Whopper. (In less than a week, more than 45,000 friends have already been sacrificed.)

Whopper Sacrifice Website

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