Agency Expects Word Play To Unleash New Clients

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A marketing agency is betting that a double-entendre in a business-to-business postcard will spark its return to the pet food sector after an absence of several years.

"Heavy petting" was the term used by Stasi & Co., New York, on a 6-by-8 1/2-inch piece that was mailed three times to the same target audience of pet food industry executives. A cat and dog appear under the words.

"The term 'heavy petting' is meant to make somebody stop and ask, 'heavy petting?'" said Dianne Stasi, president and creative director. "The image of the cat and dog softens the other connotation. We wanted it to be quick, fun, in your face and appeal to people in the pet and pet food industry. The hope was that it would have staying power, and they might hang it on their bulletin board and keep it around. We didn't want to use a big mail package that had to be opened by an administrative assistant."

Stasi looks to acquire individual project assignments as well as generate long-term business relationships that produce ongoing fees.

"The problem is we have a lot of expertise working with pet food companies, but not with a current client," she said.

About 1,000 people at 300 companies received the same postcards three times, with drops in December, January and February. They included individuals with the title of director or above, including vice president and president, at firms with annual revenue exceeding $10 million. About 40 of the 300 companies are pet food manufacturers while the others are pet food retailers or wholesalers.

"We felt that below $10 million [in annual revenue] ... that those folks weren't looking to spend a lot of money on marketing," marketing partner Ken Katzman said. "We believe these people are serious about listening to marketing pitches and are willing to spend money on marketing."

The back of the postcard tells recipients that, "When it comes to pet food marketing, we're not lightweights." This is followed by bullet points about the types of programs the agency has created for companies in the sector.

Stasi's phone number and e-mail address are at the bottom of the card along with the company's Web site,

"We're hitting multiple contacts per company, [including] people in sales and marketing, because these folks interact on a daily basis," Katzman said. ["We're hoping they say,] 'Did you get the postcard? Yeah, we got the postcard. We should give these guys a call.'

"That's why the creative had to be arresting. We didn't want a gigantic presentation. We wanted to keep it simple, stupid."

Three-fourths of those targeted were obtained from a list provided by Dun & Bradstreet while the rest came from an internal list. No information was provided regarding the fee paid to D&B.

Creative work was done in-house while the 3,000 pieces mailed incurred a per-piece mailing cost of 37 cents. Production of the cards cost less than $1,000.

No new business has been generated yet. However, Stasi said about "a half dozen" of the 300 companies have contacted her firm requesting more information.

"If we get one or two decent-sized accounts on retainer and a few smaller accounts -- project work -- we would be happy," Katzman said. "We believe it's realistic to expect that. If we were to get one account, it more than pays for the effort."


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