Polaroid Mailer Clicks With Photographers

A postcard that promoted a new proofing film from Polaroid produced a response rate that was double what had been expected.

The 9-by-6-inch piece mailed the week of March 31 to an audience consisting mainly of names purchased from a nationwide list of professional photographers, primarily commercial photographers, that excluded those who shoot events such as weddings, social events or portraits.

Only 13 percent came from Polaroid's database of photographers who primarily use its products or have responded to previous offers from the company.

“We were able to pick names based on commercial professional photographers nationwide,” said Pamela Landis, group marketing communications manager for Polaroid Corp., Waltham, MA. “Commercial photographers would do studio work, including advertising and product photography as well as fashion.”

The card shows a bottle of champagne that is being poured into a photo of a glass. The back mixes copy with the small images of two boxes of the 690 film as well as the larger images of the back of a cat's head as it looks at a photo of a bird in a cage.

“The images tie into the headline on the back of the piece — FOR LIFELIKE PROOFING,” she said. “The boxes of film are there to show the packaging.

“As for the other images, the cat sees the picture of a bird and thinks it's real, which delivers on the message of true-to-life colors. The champagne on the front is also a lifelike image — pouring a bottle of champagne into the picture since the glass in the photo looks so real.”

Landis explained that proofing film is used to set up a shot before switching to 35mm film for a photo shoot. The proofing film is used prior to the shoot, letting a photographer adjust lighting, composition, color, shades and positioning of objects.

Recipients were asked to call a toll-free number to obtain a free pack of the film. The piece generated a 4 percent response rate.

“We looked at it as a traditional direct mail piece, and our goal was the typical 2 percent response, although that average has been going down industry-wide in recent years,” she said.

“This performed as well as it did because we are very involved in the professional photography community. We have very good relationships, we're very well known with photographers, and they always want to see what the next thing is that we're bringing to market.”

The free film offer expired June 15.

“We have a series of proofing films, and 690 was a new proofing film being introduced to the marketplace,” she said. “It came with some new characteristics that made it superior to other proofing films — much clearer and sharper pictures and more consistency from shot to shot.”

Several bullet points are on the back of the card, including: unfailingly consistent, sharper images, true-to-life color, flexible development time and varying temperature tolerance.

Development time of 90 seconds also was listed. Landis counted that element as an improvement in Polaroid's proofing films.

“Our goal was to introduce this and tell the professional photographers that we have this available and deliver the message of what makes it superior, and let them sample a pack of film,” she said.

Along with direct mail, Polaroid used regional dealers, in-store POS and print ads featured in commercial photography trade publications as well as public relations to promote the product.

The new film is unavailable at mass retailers. It can be purchased only through Polaroid's dealer network. The single pack that was offered would cost $14 while $21 is the price for a twin pack.

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