The noble business envelope, still a perfect No. 10 in our stack, has imprinted an indelible stamp on U.S. communication and contemporary culture despite overwhelming competition from fax machines, e-mail, text messaging, social networks and those sappy e-cards. Though folded, stapled, barcoded and bundled, the envelope remains steadfast, relevant … unflappable. Deliver® recently caught up with this ageless emissary to address his present role in marketing and society.
Deliver: You may be able to clear up an age-old question for us right off the top. Is your name pronounced ahn-velope or enn-velope?
Enny: Well, it depends on who I’m with, now, doesn’t it? When I’m about me business, all hoity-toity and professional-like, it’s ahn-velope. When I’m just hangin’ with me mates, it’s whatever you please. You can call me Enny. Most of me friends do.
Deliver: Well, you certainly “enveloped” that question, didn’t you?
Deliver: OK, moving right along. Do I detect a British accent?
Enny: Right! I’m a direct descendent from the original fold, don’tcha know. It was a couple of Brits, Edwin Hill and Warren de la Rue, who patented the first machine to cut and crease my ancestors way back in 1845. Before that, blokes just made their own envelopes freehand out of whatever was lyin’ around. Extremely sloppy. Bloody mess.
Deliver: What about today, Enny? Do you think your kind still has a role to play in modern communications given all the advances in technology?
Enny: Of course! They call it “direct mail” for a reason, don’t they? I can be personalized, customized and specialized. I can be all gussied up and stuffed with discounts, special messaging, all kinds of goodies. Look, what I’ve got that those other gadgets don’t is the touchy-feely factor. What do they call it? Tactile. That’s what I am. You ever feel warm and fuzzy about a fax message? When they figure out how to put a lock of your baby’s hair in an e-mail, call me. That’s when I’ll start to worry.
Deliver: You sound pretty confident about your future.
Enny: Mate, I can’t be licked! Uh … so to speak.
Deliver: What’s your opinion of Mail Art?
Enny: Love it, love it, mate! I’ve got an ego like anyone else, ya know. I like to be special, colorful, to stand out from the pile. And the more distinctive I am, the more effective I can be as a prospecting tool. Hey, I’m like a pickaxe! A “prospecting tool,” get it?
Deliver: Oh, we got it. Enny, what are some of your favorite things?
Enny: Let’s see… Celebrity stamps. Pen pals. Successful marketing campaigns where I get to seal the deal. Windows — I’m the trans-parent type, ya know? Barcodes. Thank-you letters. ESD, Electronic Stamp Distribution. Messaging on me outside. Being certified or registered — what power being all official! Being spritzed with cologne or some other pretty scent. Oh, and definitely, recycling.
Deliver: And your dislikes?
Enny: Too much saliva. E-mail strings. Poison pen letters. “Return to Sender.” Hot wax seals — how’d you like to have something all heated up and sticky pressed onto your backside, eh? Oh, and shredders. We lost Uncle Henry to a crosscut, high-speed job back in ’06. Me aunt went all to pieces.
Deliver: Any advice for our readers?
Enny: I’ve been around since before the Pony Express. There are more than 400 billion of us, of all shapes and sizes, made around the world. We must be doin’ something right, eh? Don’t give up on us envelopes, people. Keep us in the fold.
Deliver: Thank you so much for your time. We know how busy you are.
Enny: Ah, nice talkin’ to ya, mate. But I gotta run. I’m being picked up at 3 o’clock.
Deliver: Going on a trip?
Enny: Yeah, but I usually get in the bag first. I’m still a rock star at heart, ya know?
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