Direct Line Blog

Bumbling agency bobbleheads bungle e-mail

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The halls are abuzz at a major ad agency after its HR department sent around an e-mail to employees this week, decrying “junk mail” in its bid to “go green.” The e-mail proclaimed as fact in giant, bold type that “An average of 41 pounds of junk mail is sent to every adult citizen each year. 44% of this goes into a landfill unopened.”

The tagline of the e-mail, which also features a Dwight Schrute bobblehead, says, “Stop the papercuts, stop the waste,” with a call-to-action to visit www.41pounds.org, a non-profit dedicated to ridding the planet of unwanted direct mail. [Dwight is a character from The Office, NBC’s satirical sitcom about employees who toil at the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa.]

This e-mail was wrong on many levels. I’ll cite just two.

Wherever you fall in the global warming debate, the fact remains that at least eight blue-chip clients of the agency are known users of direct mail as a marketing tactic. A few of them are heavy mailers. We’re talking multimillions of mail pieces. Surely it makes sense to understand the agency’s business and align all messages internally and externally to jive with that.

The e-mail also directs e-mail recipients to 41pounds.org, a web service that will help you “reclaim your mailbox” by stopping unwanted mail. This nonprofit charges consumers $41 to do so.
Wouldn’t it be easier to send people to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and its Mail Preference Service, which has been providing the same service for consumers for free since 1971? I bet the agency is a DMA member too.

Maybe the HR people at this shop actually are bobbleheads because clearly their brains were scrambled when they sent out this message. Or maybe they will become bobbleheads after having their heads handed to them for flubbing this one.
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