MS Chapter Focuses on Family For Annual Halloween Run Mailer

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The Colorado chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society hopes that a more family friendly focus for a direct mail piece promoting its Halloween-themed 5K race will generate more registrations.


"In the past, we've only shown adults in costume on the direct mail piece," said Lora Ledermann, owner of Scream Agency, Denver, the advertising and PR agency that developed the mailer. "This year we've tried to increase response by showing a child and a dog, both of whom are shown in costume."


Ledermann, whose mother has multiple sclerosis, created the Scream Scram event four years ago. Last year's mailer, she said, showed an image of a "woman who looked like somebody from the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show,' wearing a beauty queen outfit running through a field."


This year's event was Oct. 24. Though results were not compiled yet, the goal was to exceed last year's 20 percent response rate.


The trifold piece informs recipients that prizes will be awarded for top runners and best costumes and that a 100-meter "Spooky Sneak" for children will take place in which "every finisher gets a bag of treats." Copy appearing with the child and dog reads: "5K: 28 min. Candy: 5 sec."


The tear-away entry form lets those responding choose among a 5K run, 5K walk or the Spooky Sneak for those 12 and younger. Adult entries received before Oct. 23 cost $22 compared with $27 for those who register on race day. The cost for children and seniors is $15 before Oct. 23 and $19 the day of the race. Directions to Denver's Washington Park and a map are contained on one of the three panels.


Recipients are informed that costumes are optional.


About 1,000 pieces were mailed Sept. 15, with the agency covering the $300 in postage. Scream Agency also donated the creative work. It totaled 157 hours for the piece and for the design of posters, fliers and a billboard.


Other services were donated as well, including $1,700 in printing costs and $1,100 in photography for a half-day shoot in which Ledermann's infant son, Lucas, posed for the photograph.


Recipients included past participants and 300 runners from a list provided by the race management company, BKB Limited, Denver.


"The goal was to attract more families and people with pets since it's a fun event for Halloween," she said.


Last year's mailer went to only 500 people, generating nearly 100 participants.


Despite projected expenses for staging the event of $5,000 to $10,000, Ledermann expects to clear $5,000 to $12,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is based on a projected 600 to 1,000 entrants.


Overall participation last year was 700. This year's goal is 1,000.


"The direct mail piece will account for about one-third of the increase," she said.


Another $500 is expected in donations above entrance fees.


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