Insert Does Double Duty as Mouse Pad, Ad

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No matter how nice looking or how good the offer is on a paper insert, it's unlikely that many consumers will keep it for long. However, one company has created an insert that has the potential for a more lasting impression.


The product is a mouse pad and an ad, and it won't boost postage costs, according to creator Microthin.com.


"The option when you talk about inserts is generally paper," said Ken Reick, principal at Microthin.com, Addison, IL. "My partner Dan O'Malley and I built this company based on the idea of taking the rubber off the mouse pad and creating an insert. Our product is something that the recipient can put on their desk, and it will have legs after the mailing is long over."


The mouse pad also can have a Web address printed on it, placing the address at the person's fingertips when he surfs the Internet, Reick added.


Reick and O'Malley founded the company in 1997 and worked with the U.S. Postal Service to ensure that the product was permissible as a magazine insert in terms of size and weight and that it would not raise postal costs. Microthin also patented its Mouse Ads, as they are called.


"When we first started the company and told people that we were working on a new mouse pad they thought we were nuts, but the mouse pad has long been a great promotional vehicle," Reick said.


By taking the rubber off the back of a run-of-the-mill mouse pad, Microthin lightened it for postal purposes, and it can be inserted by machine in high volumes. The slender mouse pad weighs less than an ounce and offers full-color printing options and 3D imagery as well as custom shapes and sizes, Reick said.


Microthin has manufactured 30 million mouse pads for clients in many industries. It has done magazine, package and cooperative mailer inserts for marketers.


Toyota has been a repeat customer. It did 800,000 mouse pad inserts for a magalog distributed at Toyota dealerships nationwide promoting its new brand, the Scion. A mouse pad featuring the three models that the automaker sells under the Scion moniker was inserted into the company's winter/spring 2005 edition of the magalog.


Software maker McAfee inserted 5 million Microthin Mouse Ads into Time magazine in 2000 to promote its new anti-viral software.


Reick sees the mouse pad as a great chance for catalogers to insert into their own catalogs. This could keep their URL in front of customers whenever they use their computers, he said. The mouse pads also have been used in some solo direct mail efforts.


In terms of production cost, plastic is much more expensive than paper, so the economy factor often associated with insert media is affected. Still, Reick said that the potential boost in response likely would make up the difference in many cases. Cost for a run of mouse pads is based on volume and size.


"We can work with mailers to make it more economically effective," he said. Another idea to defray costs would be to split the cost of producing the insert by doing a co-marketing campaign with an affinity marketing partner.


Microthin also offers a bookmark that is insertable, but the mouse pad is its most popular item.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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