Sunday, April 5, 2009

"The Toby Effect" in Direct Marketing

I love junk mail. It's more exciting than the real mail and usually doesn't come in those unmarked window envelopes that give me palpitations.

I got a real gem the other night.

"Where is Toby?"

It was the most genius piece of direct mail design I've seen in a very long time.

The execution

1. A4 copier paper wonkily cut with scissors to approximately DL size

2. Headline handwritten in permanent marker across the top sloping downward. Child's handwriting " Where is Toby?"

3. Bad black and white photocopy of big fat, fluffy, tabby cat (Toby) on left hand side. Sellotape visible where the original photo had been taped to the backing.

4. Copy next to photo handwritten in pen "We've looked everywhere and we can't find him. He is a really good cat. I hope he's not hurt. If you have seen him call 655 8475. Thank-you for your help."

It nearly made me cry. The crying wasn't for Toby. Not that I wanted Toby to be AWOL. They were tears for the simplicity of a well communicated message that jumped out of a pile of catalogues and flyers that ad agencies and marketing departments had spent thousands designing and producing and 'triple-sign-offing' and fighting over in meetings. Sincerity and simplicity with a clear call to action. Not to mention the per piece production costs and speed to market.

On my next stroll up the road to get the paper I caught myself asking local cats "have you seen Toby?" The "Toby Effect" had me.

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” Leo Burnett

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