Consumers are looking for more creativity from mailshots and are being
put off by many of the tired techniques persistently used by some
advertisers, according to a new survey.
But companies that confuse creativity with gimmickry may see their
efforts backfire, the research concludes.
The survey was commissioned by the Direct Mail Information Service to
investigate consumers’ reactions to the creativity of the mailshots they
It follows group discussions and interviews with consumers, aged between
25 and 60 and from a range of social classes during February and March.
They were asked to record their spontaneous impressions of all the
direct mail they had received during the two weeks prior to the survey.
DMIS warned that there is a serious danger that the relationship between
advertiser and consumer ‘may be undermined by the use of a creative
technique that does not fit the consumer’s perception of how that type
of advertiser should operate’.
Consumers were positive about advertisers that tried to produce creative
mailshots, but they condemned ‘tacky’ promotions that made unbelievable
statements on the envelope, such as ‘urgent’ or ‘private and
Consumers were also angered by the ‘cliched’ technique of trying to
personalise a letter by repeating recipients’ names in several places
The survey’s findings were welcomed by Mike O’Brien, creative director
of the direct marketing agency, Hamilton Wright, and one of the founders
of the Campaign Against Junk Marketing. ‘Consumers are sophisticated and
will regard a bad piece of direct mail as a personal insult. The more
they show that they won’t put up with it, the more advertisers will put
pressure on agencies to improve standards.’