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Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved

(Business Marketing) Appealing to the sense of smell is a creative marketing tactic used today, and several campaigns have caught our eye, especially one involving catnip and kittehs.

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direct mail marketing kitteh

direct mail marketing kitteh

Using sense of smell to enhance your branding power

Giving your brand an edge is more important than ever before. From scents to interactive ads, marketers are trying harder than ever to grab your attention. Motorola created an ad that lets you change the color of a printed page before your eyes; billboards ad have been lit aflame, and now brands are appealing to your sense of smell. You may not realize it, but you have probably already been exposed to scent technologies. Scent branding is being used by boutiques, museums, and everything in between.

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Why use scent? The sense of smell is one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. And, if used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer experience in a pleasing manner. It can also drive purchases as well. If your scent evokes a happy memory, people are more likely to buy it again and again.

Recently, India published its first scented newspaper ad. Johnson and Johnson placed a full-page advertisement in “The Times of India,” “The Hindu,” and “Malayala Manorama,” all of which were infused with the smell of J&J’s baby powder. As more and more publications are losing out in the digital age, making print advertising exciting, innovative, and fun, is paramount. And let’s face it, everyone loves that “baby smell,” so not only did people enjoy the ad, it encouraged people to pass it around and talk about it; which is exactly what you hope for in any marketing campaign.

The best direct mail campaign ever in history


Scent targeted marketing has even expanded to the pet market. A cat litter warehouse, looking to draw attention as they launch, chose a direct mail campaign. But they needed a way to insure their advertising did not wind up in the trash, so they decided to use scent. They infused their postcards with catnip and kitties went crazy for it; see their reactions here. As soon as the mail arrived in their human’s mailboxes, the cats were pounced, immediately drawn to the scent. And when the cats like something, the owners take notice, which insured the ad, for the most part, was noticed and not discarded.

The same is true for print advertising. Creating an ad that makes your readers stand up and take notice is what the difference between and effective campaign and one that flops. So why not engage the customer’s senses and draw them in to your product? At the very least they will be likely to talk about the novelty of scented ads, something you just cannot get through digital advertising.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bruce Lemieux

    February 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Uhhh, you know this wasn’t a real campaign, don’t you? That piece couldn’t be delivered (no postal insignia, etc). And sending a square piece – yikes. USPS must hand-sort Irregular shapes like this, so they are prohibitively expensive for a direct-mail campaign. And this “cat litter warehouse” is using direct mail to sell cat litter?? Probably the least cost-effective example of using direct mail. Ever.

    What *was* real about this video — it’s catnip to social media and marketing gurus who can’t resist telling us about new, creative and exciting ways to do something that doesn’t need to be new, creative or exciting. Up Next: scented postcards with QR codes delivered by drones (cut to scene where a millennial is struggling to scan the QR code on a postcard with her smartphone while the wind whips around a drone hovering overhead).

  2. Lani Rosales

    February 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Bruce, it is a Canadian company, but you could be right since their website is pretty defunct, the property they say their address is located shows up as “For Lease” on Google Maps, but I won’t let you crush my dreams – I think it could be a pricey marketing stunt!

    We spoke with an Austin printer who noted they’ve used buttered popcorn smell for direct mailers, and that scent is being used in marketing (and not just that horrible Abercrombie cologne sprayed every 10 minutes through the air vents in their store). Laugh all you want, but I think it’s pretty cool, curmudgeon! 😉

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

      “Curmudgeon”? Really??

      ok, I admit, that’s about right.

  3. Shelley Sweeney

    February 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    First of all, this video is adorable. Second of all, this direct mail campaign is a great example of where the print marketing industry is headed. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have the help of a furry friend and a little creativity, a direct marketing piece like this is bound for success. Sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell – experiential marketing campaigns are utilizing a range of senses these days to capture the attention of consumers. Increasingly, we’ve seen that it’s imperative for printed pieces to be interactive, cutting-edge and personalized, in order to increase the connection between the brand and the consumer. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-paced, always-on world. Partner print with the sense of smell and you’ve created one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. In fact, a
    well-designed, creative, innovative piece can drive a connection between a brand and a consumer, sparking their interest, increasing their loyalty and possibly gaining new ambassadors. So, I highly recommend – take advantage of the power of print and have a little fun with it, too! – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

    • Bas de Haan

      February 28, 2014 at 3:58 am

      Totally agree with the comments of Shelley. For the best effect it is important to use scent as an active coating in order to get the fragrance released by local air flow instead of a (passive) cratch and sniff technology..

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      I’m a huge fan of direct mail and agree it can be a very effective way to cut through “today’s oversaturated media world”. But scented mail absolutely isn’t the future of print marketing. “Have a little fun with it”? Maybe one can have some fun with direct mail on Planet Fantasy where printing and postage costs are negligible. But on Planet Earth where I live, direct mail is way too expensive for that (harsh, I know, but I feel it’s my duty since someone here labeled me as a “curmudgeon”)

      The real opportunity with direct mail — IMO — is cost-effective implementation of targeted, variable print direct mail that leads to personalized web interaction (PURLs). Xerox is a leader in printing solutions for variable print, but that’s just one link in the chain. It can be very expensive and very complicated to implement a program that targets the *right* consumers with the *right* message that also *minimizes* printing and postage costs. “Printers of the future” will master not only the technology of digital variable printing, but the data & tools needed to help facilitate targeted messages that are easy and cost-effective to implement. As a consumer of this product, I can tell you it’s getting better, but solutions are still evolving at a glacier pace.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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