Marketing Miscellany

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004 – Say cell phones, and my first thought is Nextel — probably because I’m hooked on a clever, little walkie-talkie feature called Direct Connect. But now I have another reason to be enamored of this wireless communications behemoth: its new tagline, “Done,” which, in one four-letter verb, speaks volumes….However, just because I like it doesn’t mean Thomas L. Collins wouldn’t be able to suggest a better alternative. After all, perhaps no direct marketer out there has a more critical — and more experienced — eye than Thomas, “The Makeover Maven” columnist for DIRECT magazine. Seriously! Read him — and reap….I have to hand it to the folks at the United States Postal Service for practicing what they preach in a glossy, tri-fold self-mailer that came to my attention recently, asking members of their constituency to send for a free “Success with Direct Mail” kit. Clearly, they’re of the mind — rightly so — that what goes around comes around….Which is obviously the same school of thought that the Jiffy Lube people followed in a simple, yet near-flawlessly executed piece of mail they sent me after I brought my Honda Element in for routine maintenance. “Thanks for choosing Jiffy Lube. We hope your recent oil change was a breath of fresh air,” read the copy, alluding to the enclosed air freshener emblazoned with the Jiffy Lube logo and the sentence, “see you in 3,000 miles.” Talk about closing the loop! Even if it is just an old-school tchotchke, an air freshener as a back-end premium is a splendid stroke of direct marketing genius….And finally, the latest front-end premium to be included with a McDonald’s Happy Meal is one of Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom HuckJam Tour toys, which can’t help but say something about the mainstream acceptance and “legitimization” of skateboarding. My two sons, Scott (8) and Ben (5), are totally into this action sport, so yes, a story like this is right up my alley, but I can’t imagine how thrilled the staff of The Charles River Conservancy is to see skateboarding receive such widespread play. The Conservancy, a nonprofit advocacy group, hopes to raise $1.1 million for the design and construction of a world-class, 40,000 square-foot skatepark on the banks of the Charles River in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, and any buzz generated by this deal between legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and McDonald’s can only help their cause.

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