It is perhaps inevitable that the postcard has become assimilated
into the modern marketing armoury. Everyone is doing it: shops, movies,
brands - even the Gatwick Express.
They all love it because it is as direct as direct marketing can get,
but, and here is the real stroke of genius, you get consumers not only
to contribute to the cost of the campaign but also take responsibility
for targeting and distribution.
And the amazing thing is that they are happy to do it. They fill in the
address, stick a stamp on and mail it for you. No more worrying about
debugging your database or huge bills from the Royal Mail.
Consumers could never be persuaded to pass around the hat to help a
manufacturer pay for a TV commercial, so what makes them so malleable
when it comes to this marketing gambit? For that we can thank the modern
abhorrence for the handwritten word.
The characters of Jane Austen were always ready to dip their pen in the
inkwell and knock out a 20-page letter. But that sort of thing is just
not practical for the likes of today’s pension-fund managing Supermum,
or for that matter any of us who bob along in the wake of modern
We have neither the time nor the copperplate handwriting.
The postcard has therefore filled a precious gap. It allows us to give a
personal touch with a few square inches of quick scrawl and provides a
picture which can communicate a nice set of brand values about the
sender: a Gary Larson cartoon (I’m a crazy guy with a sense of humour);
a cubist painting by Braque (I never talk about it but I am an
The freebie postcards that hang around public places look ingenuous but
they have tapped into the convenience society and allowed the brand
message to penetrate far and wide.
If you find any other medium which is as direct and simple, let me
Answers on a postcard.