Agency Hopes Furry Postcards Heat up Demand for Creative Talent

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Creative talent placement agency Aquent hopes a furry postcard campaign will generate leads and inquiries from businesses strapped for creative help.


Mark Saperstein, Aquent vice president and creative director, said that by mailing postcards lined with fur that was bright yellow, lime green, "Barbie's dream house pink" or "psychedelic leopard," he has given clients and prospects something to remember him by.


Postcards with fur on one side and Aquent's offer to provide businesses with experienced creative professionals on the other were sent to clients on the agency's mailing list and to prospects on lists it rented from Dickinson Direct, Braintree, MA.


Details about targeting and drop size were not disclosed. "We're usually pretty open with stuff like this, but we've had a lot of competitors copying us," Saperstein said.


The campaign was developed and will be tracked inhouse. The goal is to persuade businesses to call Aquent or to visit www.aquent.com when creatives are needed to assist with production and design projects.


Mood and timing of the drop were integral parts of the strategy.


"If someone needs help when they get our piece, they'll call us. If our piece is fun, [clients and prospects] will keep it around and call us when they do," Saperstein said.


Postcards were dropped in late August to coincide with what is typically a busy time of year.


"Our yearly cycle is mapped out and looks like a biorhythm," Saperstein said, but he would not elaborate.


Aquent, Boston, will use tested methods to measure campaign success. Unique telephone numbers and Web addresses -- w3.aquent.com/furry -- are printed on the postcards and are used to track responses.


Saperstein would not talk numbers, but he did say Aquent tracks customer acquisition costs, lifetime values, lead costs, and the percentage of leads that turn into clients.


To gauge conversion rates, Aquent will search its database for new clients and will match the increase against the time frame of the initial furry postcard drop, which occurred at the end of August.


"We will know how many responses we get, and we'll know roughly how many leads are converted to new clients. We're committed to tracking our advertising. We want 100 percent accurate numbers," Saperstein said.


Aquent often measures list effectiveness by matching response mechanisms such as phone numbers and URLs to correspond with specific lists, but production difficulties prohibited it from doing that this time. Besides the fur color, all postcards were identical.


More detailed tracking and personalization experiments work better for more traditional campaigns, and this was more of a "fun, unsophisticated gimmick" campaign, Saperstein said.


Aquent considered printing its logo on the furry side, which is what recipients will focus on.


"We didn't do everything we wanted to because of production difficulties," he said, and the costs would not have been a worthwhile investment.


The headline -- "Are your design and production projects getting a little hairy? Aquent can send you the help you need" -- speaks to businesses under the gun to produce more creative than they can handle, Saperstein said.


The rest of the copy touts Aquent's services and tells recipients to "stop pulling your hair out" because Aquent will "untangle your creative projects in no time."


"The copy obviously plays off the fur; we were not going for a lot of sophistication," Saperstein said.


Saperstein declined to comment on campaign costs or on what kind of return Aquent is expecting, but he insisted the company normally beats average direct marketing response rates.


"We're better at it. Our competition does boring stuff -- they don't do fun stuff like furry postcards," he said.
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