PointRoll Delivers Online Ads, Local Service in a Pizza Box

PointRoll Inc. promoted its online delivery service for newspaper circular ads last week by sending a beaten-up pizza box — but no pizza inside — to ad agencies, large retailers and reporters covering the advertising industry.

The service, PaperBoy Local Delivery, incorporates interactive online ads with market-specific content on Web sites including Yahoo, USAToday.com and the 217 local online publications represented by Gannett Co. Inc., Knight-Ridder Inc., Tribune Co. and Real Cities Network. PointRoll is a subsidiary of Gannett.

The service springs from a partnership between PointRoll and ShopLocal, a company specializing in promotional content for the Web. The ads are expandable banners that include features such as e-mail signup, store locators, send to a friend, video and shopping lists. The product went live Nov. 1.

The pizza box was adorned with PointRoll's PaperBoy logo as well as a return-to-sender stamp, several images of First-Class stamps and an airmail slip. Inside, it included a paper liner made to look like it had pizza grease stains on it. Interactive marketing agency Sharpe Partners, New York, created the campaign, sent to 3,500 creative and media professionals. E-mails promoting the product also went to a broader audience the week of Nov. 7.

Sharpe CEO Kathy Sharpe said the box was designed to bring home the message that some things are better delivered locally.

“When we were concepting this in terms of the theme of local, we thought about the fact that there are certain things that should be delivered locally, and pizza came up as one of them,” she said. “We wanted to show that the pizza box had been around the world, and that the pizza was gone.”

The team also wanted to develop something that communicated the PaperBoy message “but at the same time made fun of one of our industry's best loved traditions: media graft,” she said. “This kind of humor is very much a part of the PointRoll brand personality, so the pizza box strategy is not just greasy, but dead-on target.”

Sharpe also said that the pizza box mailer was appropriate because the product “doesn't really have a presence in the real world, so to take the message into the real world and give people something they can put in their hands was something that we thought was a great augmentation to the online work.”

As for how the company created the pizza grease stains, Sharpe said, “let's just say it took awhile to clean off the scanner.”

The message is reinforced by copy printed inside the top of the box that said, “[S]tale, generic national ads tend to get a stale response. If you're looking to connect with customers, you need to speak to them directly. Locally. With a message intended just for them.”

The call to action invited recipients to visit www.paperboydelivery.com/pizza or call for more information. The Web site features a moving graphic of the same pizza box. The microsite, which went live Nov. 1, is seen only on the box, so “we are able to track people with the box,” though Sharpe has no numbers to report yet. Ads ran on Adweek.com, AdAge.com, ClickZ.com and several industry-related blogs the week of Nov. 7 and will run until year end.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database 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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