Deliver Magazine. Mail Marketing Strategies from the U.S. Postal Service®

Creativity Doesn’t Have to Come at a Cost


Image of direct mail sample - record player with record

Geoff Dawson wants to talk on the record … literally.

Last year, the associate creative director at Grey Vancouver, together with art director Andrew McKinley, produced a clever B-to-B direct mailer incorporating a 45-rpm record and an accompanying, assembly-required cardboard phonograph.

Shipped to creative directors in Canada and the United States, the piece mushroomed into a hit with recipients before going on to take a prestigious Gold Lion award at Cannes.

The DM piece was so engaging, so fashionably out there that people were phoning the client’s company pleading for a copy. And the device generated this excitement on the cheap: Total budget for the mailer was a relatively scrimpy $5,000.

Design a direct mail piece they want to keep

The piece, dubbed “A Town That Found Its Sound” and created for sound studio Griffiths, Gibson and Ramsay Productions (GGRP), not only underscores the importance of conceptualism and smart design, it also advances Dawson’s theory that direct mail often works best when it possesses some kind of keepsake value.

“You have to give people something that they have incredible difficulty throwing away,” Dawson says. “I always try to approach direct mail with that mindset. It would feel like a sin to dump this (phonograph) into your trash bin.”

The roots of the phonograph project extend back to 2009, when Grey Vancouver received a brief from GGRP outlining the studio’s marketing objectives. The former home of Little Mountain Sound Studios, the GGRP facilities once churned out breakthrough recordings. But by 2010, GGRP needed an image overhaul. “They’re still very music-centric and have the chops, but they were seen as a little long in the tooth,” Dawson says.

Dawson, McKinley, account director Genevieve Louden and production director Dennis Isaacson hit on the idea of vinyl. “We really liked the narrative of how vinyl and GGRP are enjoying this resurrection,“ Dawson says.

After eight months of research and development, the handmade mailers were shipped in personally addressed envelopes. “We got a 90-percent response rate,” Dawson says. “Within days, everybody contacted GGRP saying that it was amazing … as a DM piece, it worked perfectly.”

GGRP pressed another 200 copies of the mailer for future potential clients. “Creative directors are calling GGRP asking for them,” Dawson says. “So if an agency calls up and says they want one, GGRP says, ‘Great, we’ll bring it by and show you what we’ve been up to.’”

Creativity, Dimensional Mail, Large Business, Medium Business, ROI, Small Business