Echo Awards Mailer Springs a Surprise on Recipients

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The Direct Marketing Association is hoping this year's call for entries to its International Echo Awards will pop out at recipients -- literally.


The hand-assembled mailer, a psychedelic-themed pop-up book that "pops out" into the shape of a cube, is serving as the DMA's call for entries to the 2002 International Echo Awards. It began appearing on marketers' desks during the last week of February.


"It's not so much about being overly strategic and trying to break new ground," said Rich Feldman, chairman of the Echo Committee. "The real issue is how to get in front of people who are extremely busy and have other things on their minds."


Part of the challenge in attracting Echo Awards submissions is that marketers in the United States have become jaded to competitions, Feldman said. He said that 571 of the 1,122 entries to last year's competition came from agencies outside the United States.


For the first time, international submissions outnumbered domestic ones. It suggests that while the competition may seem fresh to agencies new to the U.S. market, the Echoes need to be repackaged to appeal to the U.S. marketing houses that have been around the block, Feldman said.


"The Echoes are about results," said Bill Spink, chief creative officer for DMW, Wayne, PA, the agency that handled creative execution on the campaign. "But the awards had kind of a stodgy presentation."


Another problem was creating a mailer that would retain interest over time. While the mailers dropped in late February, the submission deadline is April 15. The mailers needed some retention value, Feldman said.


The DMA found its solution in the book cube, a patented mailer developed by Structural Graphics, Essex, CT. The simple-looking 5-by-5-inch mailer comes in a clear plastic wrapping. Opening it reveals two panels and a paper flower that opens from the middle of the inside fold, much like a children's pop-up book.


Play with the mailer a little more and it expands into a cube shape, revealing two more hidden panels. The mailer is assembled with rubber bands in the middle so that it unfolds into a cube with just some gentle prodding by the recipient.


"You have the surprise of what's happening when it's opening," said Mike Maguire, president of Structural Graphics. "Plus, people leave them on their desks."


Assembly involved DMW applying artwork on the flat layout of the mailer. The layouts then were sent to a printing firm for cutting and shipped to one of the two Structural Graphics production plants in Mexico, where they were assembled by hand and returned to the United States for mailing.


DMW sent about 18,000 of the pieces to the DMA's mailing list of marketers.


DMW plans to follow the book cubes with e-mails and postcards. The postcards maintain the 1960s "hippie" theme and warn recipients that "time is no longer on your side."


Applied Printing Technologies handled print production on the campaign. CC3 provided lettershop and personalization services. Central Lewmar/Marquardt provided paper. All work on the campaign was done pro bono.


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