A creative review with a whiff of nostalgia

by Graham Dodd on 26/06/2017

Scarily now more than 30 something years ago, I was making my way up the management ladder at Marketforce, later known as MRM Distribution, market leaders in an industry called house to house distribution.

Royal Mail door to door was not on anyone’s radar and “freesheets” were starting to be of interest.

Postal sector distribution did not exist and every town and city in the UK was “mapped” with man-made segments simply numbered for identification purposes.

Demographic selectivity existed – but was simply based upon an Area Manager’s assessment of the type of property in any given segment!

Yet the size of the industry was truly massive.

Does anyone remember free film envelopes; Grunwick, Truprint?

Direct response was huge; Plumbs, CIS Insurance, Damart, Empire Stores, Littlewoods, Grattan (where I was Judith Donovan’s Account Manager!).

And then there was f.m.c.g. – Kraft, Tetley, Batchelors, General Foods, Heinz, Cadbury, Elida Gibbs, Kellogg’s, Van den Berghs, Lever Brothers…

… and of course Procter & Gamble.

Product sampling was a big area of business and I cut many sampling teeth working on launches for Pampers, Lenor, Crest and Close Up toothpaste, Cup a Soup, Oil of Ulay, Maxwell House and numerous Kellogg’s brands, but these companies also used couponing on a regular basis as well.

Door drop sampling and couponing has in recent years fallen off of most companies’ radars, partly due to the seduction of all things digital I suspect, but of late there are growing concerns about the real value of digital.

There is continued evidence from Valassis that as consumers we still love a discount and the print industry in general regularly claims (rightly) that it is not dead and still has value.

So against all this background, I was surprised yet delighted, to receive a P & G door drop last week for Always, providing two, dated coupons off different products.

P & G are rightly revered in marketing circles and have historically been labelled as trendsetters, so does their return to door drop signify the start of a renaissance in couponing and sampling?

My only criticism of the leaflet was the prompt to consumers that the leaflet contained £7.00 of coupons.

Now door drop can offer you many things, but it cannot predict which way up a leaflet will land on the doormat.

The back of the leaflet contained a clear image of a tag/label identifying that the coupons were inside, but, the front of the leaflet included a gummed seal and the tag/label was almost entirely hidden under the seal, when there was plenty of space elsewhere for it to be positioned.

I can hear the creative saying ‘yeah but just showing the edge the tag/label will trigger an interest in what lies beneath the seal and make people open it.’

Well I hope you are right if that is the case, but in my book, placing the image boldly and clearly on the front page so your eyes are immediately attracted to it (like they are on the back page) takes away any doubt the leaflet will be opened.

You have literally seconds to stimulate interest when a consumer picks your leaflet up off the doormat, don’t waste that opportunity.

It reminded me of a P & O Ferries creative debrief some years ago.

It had been identified and agreed that the two main hooks to generate response were price and destination.

Why then did almost the entire back page consist of a National Express bus route map showing your travel options to Hull!?

But’s that’s another story!

This article was written by...

– who has written 34 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

Graham Dodd is the founder of The Letterbox Consultancy – he has over 40 years of experience in the door drop industry and remains at the forefront of innovation in the business.

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