Friday, November 28, 2014

Giving back in the direct marketing arena

Thousands of years ago, Bedrock Motors mailed Fred Flintstone a fake granite car key. The mailer promised a chance at starting a new car. Fred went over to the dealer, tried the key, and it didn't work. He was annoyed and left to shoot pool with Barney.

By Schumi4ever (Own work) [GFDL
or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
, via Wikimedia Commons
And this hoary old marketing technique has continued unchanged ever since.

I'm sick of it. Even more today, because the fake keys sent by my town's Dodge dealer are plastic and metal -- and therefore not recyclable.

If the dealer sends out 1,000s of key mailers twice a year, that's a needless burden on the waste stream.

It's bad PR for his business if I mention the name of the Dodge dealer here. But there's just one Dodge dealer in my town. Its name rhymes with "arena." You can figure this out.

So, here's what I did:

I gave him back his key.

On Thanksgiving Day, when the place was closed, I went over to Rhymes-with-Arena Dodge, by the marina. I parked across the street, walked over, and placed the mailer/key under the snow-packed windshield wiper of a Hyundai. I'm hoping it will freeze against the glass when the temperature drops. Or make a wet paper mess if the temperature rises.

Then, I turned to Facebook to urge my friends and neighbors to do the same. As I'm urging you to do.

Look, direct mail marketing isn't evil. But all direct mail should be two things: informative and recyclable. Rhymes-with-Arena Dodge's direct mail isn't recyclable, and for that matter, treats me like a simpleton. It's also a cluttered graphic design nightmare.

So, in the spirit of the season, I've chosen to give back. Rhymes-with-Arena Dodge deserves their keys back. All of them. If you're in the neighborhood, they close around 9 pm. And there are plenty of windshields to choose from.