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Envelope Looms Larger Than Billboard for TNT Racing Promotion

The biggest billboard in the world might come on the outside of a little blue envelope.

That's the idea behind a Turner Sports campaign with Valpak and Office Depot to promote its 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Race to the Chase. The effort aims to catch consumers' eye by using an attention-grabbing offer — a sweepstakes prize — printed on the most visible part of the mailer, the outside envelope.

The campaign employs other kinds of media to broaden its impact and prompt consumers to look for the mailer. The mailer was sent last week, reaching 43 million to 45 million consumers. The outside of the envelope promotes a sweepstakes Turner Network Television offers with Office Depot, and the inside contains an insert with information about TNT programming, including a schedule and a reply form for the sweepstakes, along with inserts from other Valpak advertisers.

Running promotions on the outside of the envelope entails Valpak making custom envelopes for each mailing. The company now has a different ad on the outside of the envelope every month, so each month's envelope is different. In addition, Valpak prints pictures of consumers on the back of its envelopes. The pictures vary by the region of the recipient, adding personalization to the envelope.

“It's now part of our process,” said Chris Bilotta, director of promotions at Valpak. “We look to make sure that the envelope is fresh and relevant.”

For Turner Sports, part of the attraction of using the outside of a Valpak mailing is its familiarity. Valpak says 90 percent of its mailers get opened.

“We're reaching 43 million potential viewers,” said Kevin McMahon, senior manager of Turner Sports Marketing and Programming. “The message is clear right on the outside of the blue envelope. Everybody knows what that blue envelope is.”

First prize for the sweepstakes, dubbed the “Coolest Ride to School,” is a ride with Office Depot-sponsored NASCAR racer Carl Edwards. The TNT campaign is being run in conjunction with Office Depot's back-to-school promotions.

The mailing coincides with a television ad campaign on TNT, along with in-store promotions at Office Depot retail locations. The Office Depot promotions feature stand-up, cardboard cutouts of Edwards. Office Depot is promoting the contest in 30 million newspaper circulars nationwide, and people can register for the sweepstakes at Valpak.com. The Valpak mailer also gets mentioned in print ads in the July and August issues of NASCAR Scene Magazine.

It's all part of Turner Sports' strategy of hitting every base in its marketing mix. McMahon described it as ensuring people get the marketing message all day long, from breakfast to dinner.

TNT has done NASCAR promotions on Valpak in the past, and TNT also used Valpak to promote its coverage of the past season's NBA All-Star Game. The key difference this year includes the co-promotion with a retail partner, McMahon said.

“This year, we're trying to hit the partnerships hard,” he said. “We're trying to get into that retail space.”

Valpak and TNT have worked on this year's NASCAR mailer since last year, Bilotta said. One area where they sought improvement was in the sweepstakes prizes. In addition to the grand prize, participants can win one of several lower-tier prizes, including a $1,000 shopping spree at Office Depot.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing 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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