Direct MailMarketing

Direct talk about direct mail: Bad direct marketing examples

By | April 15, 2016

I love going to the mailbox, and I am not alone.  85% of women aged 25-44 read direct mail vs the 53% that read email advertisements. There is still something satisfying about going out the box and finding stuff inside.

Yet, I am still regularly surprised about the tactics organizations use with direct mail. It is such a grand opportunity to engage someone, yet it seems people design direct mail without considering how it will be received.

When it’s done right, it works. But when it’s done wrong, it leaves me scratching my head. Who approved this?!

Here’s what I’m talking about:

I opened up my mailbox the other day to find this envelope addressed to me from a person I did not recognize. Notice the return label address. Looks like a return address stamp from Paper Source. The envelope was the same size as a note card and the address looked handwritten. Even the color was appealing. They got me at the return address, this was real mail. Imagine my surprise.


The inside could not have been more different than the outside.



What I found in the envelope was not a personal letter, but rather a coupon and advertisement. At least I figured out who Chris was… turns out he is the VP of Customer Relations at DirectTV.

The problem with this experience is that I and all the other people that got this same mailing were being tricked into opening the envelope. The content inside was nothing more than an advertisement with a deceptive envelope to make people open it. I don’t know about you, but my level of trust for cable companies is not that high. The biggest brand impression they made is that DirectTV sees nothing wrong with deception.

It didn’t have to fail

What if they made a funny “get well” card with copy like…  “Are you sick and tired of bad TV service” What if they included a simulated “gift card” like they show in the advertisement. Highlighting that they can redeem when they sign up. What if Chris wrote a funny letter telling you it was all a sham and ask forgiveness because he would go to any length to get you to pay attention to this great offer. I can think of a lot of ways that this fake envelope could be carried through to make the mailing authentic. Sadly the only impression I was left with was… don’t trust DirectTV!

What do you think?

Looking for ways to improve your direct mail? Send me your last campaign and I would be happy to review with you (promise I won’t dissect it in a blog post). What makes a successful direct mail appeal? We break down the elements here.

Jeffery James
Jeffery James
Jeffery is the Creative Director and Principal of Spire2. He brings marketing expertise from a variety of industries. He excels at understanding clients' corporate objectives, translating them into brand positioning and executing marketing materials that exceed expectations.