Diary: Speaker's Corner

Sunday morning, 8am. Bleary-eyed and barely awake, I just about hear the dull thud and blunder downstairs to pick up the papers. The delivery boy has long since abandoned any attempt to thrust what seems like the entire contents of a Brazilian rainforest through the letterbox. Instead they're piled high on the doorstep. Thank heavens it's not raining.

Having lugged the heap into the kitchen, the familiar ritual begins.

Tear off the plastic wrappings containing the magazines and examine the free CD. Why are they such godawful compilations? Next, hold up the mags, give them a good shake and watch the pile of inserts cascade on to the table. Take the pile and toss them unread into the pedal bin.

A small pang of conscience overcomes me when I see the charity appeals disappearing with the rest of the dross. Last weekend's selection included a Christmas appeal from the Salvation Army and a fundraising leaflet from Medecins Sans Frontieres. Mine is no heart of stone. But things have got out of hand. I've come to tar every insert with the same brush. Worthy or not, out they go because they're a damned nuisance. And I suspect I'm far from alone in wishing them good riddance. Forget niche marketing - inserts are more like blanket bombing. Surely there must be more cost-effective and far more accurate ways of hitting a target audience.

What aggravates me most about inserts is how they can often detract so badly from, and have no affinity with, the editorial product that is their delivery vehicle. How galling must it be for the producers of a well-written Sunday magazine with high production values to see a garish catalogue for the latest bling slipped between their stylish pages.

The result is obvious. How many times have you got onboard a London Tube train to find the carriage awash with unwanted loose ads from between the pages of the Evening Standard?

How I dread the arrival of Christmas when the number of inserts grows from a steady flow to a raging flood. Bah humbug!

- Got an axe to grind? E-mail us at campaign@haynet.com.


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