execution responsible

Hey Chase! Leo Burnett doesn’t work here.

By December 2, 2008 3 Comments

We’ve all received direct mail that has our name, title and even gender wrong—the result of poor data integrity, database management, a hiccup at the mail house or any number of things that can happen along the way.

It happens.

But sometimes something lands in our mailbox that’s a real head-scratcher, like this:

Leo Burnett at Outsource Marketing

Leo Burnett was a titan in the ad business for six decades. His agency is responsible for Toucan Sam, The Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie the Tuna, Morris the Cat, Tony the Tiger, and yes—The Marlboro Man.

Leo Burnett by Yousef Karsh/Retna - Time 100
Outsource Marketing opened its doors in 1997—26 years after Leo Burnett died. I turned five in 1971, so I doubt our paths ever crossed. Besides, I never could have talked him into dumping Marlboro or leaving Chicagoland.

I don’t know if Chase had bad data, if there was a database glitch or if there was a problem at the mailing house.

I do know two things:

First, direct marketing has made huge strides in recent years, but execution breakdowns like this still happen far too often.

And second, with the purchase of Washington Mutual (may they rest in peace), Chase has all our company contact info and transaction data. If they wanted to get it right, they could have.

So, what do you think went wrong with this mailing?

And what’s the oddest direct mail screw-up you’ve seen?

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Photo: Leo Burnett by Yousef Karsh/Retna – Time 100

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Patrick, obviously Chase is acknowledging your expertise in marketing! Take it as high praise. Now if only they’d address me as “David Ogilvy.” Or even “Don Draper.”

  • Greg Lins says:

    I had a good one a few years back. It was addressed to Greg Lins Lins.

    My best guess of how that could happen – whenever I give my name to somebody, they always want to make “Lins” more complicated than it is. So I’ve grown used to saying “My name is Greg Lins, L-I-N-S.”

    Back in the day when I had a publishing business, I used to send a lot of direct mail to households. I’ll never forget the woman that called one day to complain that the mail to her (deceased) husband was cruel. She cried as she told me about all the mail she was getting. Of course it wasn’t personal, but to her, it was.

    Oddly enough, just talking with her about what happened left us on good terms. She decided it would be OK to keep receiving the publication, but requested to have it put in her name…

  • With outcomes like this it is no wonder the USPS came out with new guidelines that require companies wanting to send first class mail at commercial prices have updated mailing lists 95 days prior to the date of mailing. My initial thought, based on the outlandish combination of contact information, is could it have been a test piece that actually got mailed? But if so, why would anyone insert an actual mailing address? Another DM campaign experience I know of that wasn’t odd, but the concept of over thinking the mailing was critical. For instance, if you are going to mail coffee cups, you need to make sure there is a ton of padding in the box and the boxes are labeled fragile. And did I mention test it? Send the package to five friends across the country first so you can truly see how daintily the box is handled. There is nothing worse than having a % of your target recipients receive a broken mug as a gift. That definitely sends the wrong message!

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