"Everything which would ordinarily go into the waste paper basket after use"

The toast direct mail

No toast

A world without toast.

No toast. Toast. No toast. Toast! Let’s try that again. Ready now…. No toast. Toast! It’s brilliant – direct mail advertising that works like a Play School game. No toast…. Toast!

The hardest part of direct mail is actually getting people to read the stuff. Getting it in the post box is easy; that just requires a bit of planning and some money. But how to get people to actually open and take note of your lovingly-crafted DM offer? The end bit is always rather hit and miss.

What if it arrives on the same day as a particularly nasty electricity bill (damn that new battery-powered car) or the news that, regrettably, your application to become a High Court judge has been refused? Not much chance then of getting in a sideways word about a great deal on duvet covers. Even if it arrives in the same post as an unexpected letter from your favourite aunt which includes a $50 note simply because you’re a wonderful person and she adores you, the chances are that any DM offer, no matter how brilliantly designed and wittily phrased, will appear rather small beer in comparison.

So what to do? This example resorts to a simple fort-da activity involving toast. On the front page, there is a picture of a toaster and an empty plate. This is the world without toast although, teasingly, there is the prospect of toast (mind you, I’m so dim that when I first looked at it, even with the presence of a toaster and an empty plate, I never for a moment suspected the imminent arrival of toast. How dumb is that?). Open up the fold and there’s the toast, flying into the sky at great speed, presumably coming back down to earth to land on the still-empty plate. That’s the world with toast. See? No toast. Toast!


A world with toast.

Obviously, the idea of the DM piece is to get us to recognise the benefits of living in a world with toast. The tagline on the front page invites us to ‘Wake up to a great rate every day’ and then suggests this is something to do with having toast pop out of the toaster every morning, although, quite frankly, if my toaster behaved like that every day, strewing crumbs around the kitchen, then it would quickly find itself on a one-way trip to the back lane.

Apart from that, there’s another problem I foresee. Now I like toast. I do. I had some toast this morning. But every day? Hmmm, I’m not sure about that one. I think I could quickly tire of toast and, hence, of living in a world with toast. How about a world of muesli? If I have to wake up to something every day (and, let’s face it, I really should) then I’d rather it was the sun shining, the lack of a hangover and the sweet recollection of a dream in which I am awarded the Nobel Prize for Beach Fishing.

More confusingly, if you open up the complete brochure, what you see inside is a picture of a self-satisfied man reading the racing form or the financials who appears to be EATING MUFFINS. How wrong is that? What happened to the world with toast we were promised? And why can’t we have what he’s having?

So you see, designing these direct mail pieces is fraught with danger and should only ever be attempted by highly-skilled practitioners.

shredded paper

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