About a month ago, I opened my mailbox and found a thick white envelope addressed to me with no return address. At first I thought that the label was machine printed junk mail some jackass marketer disguised as a hand-written personalized letter to me, but upon closer inspection I realized it wasn’t. Someone actually took the time to hand-address this envelope. Then I got sketched out. I didn’t recognize the hand-writing and there was no return address so this letter had to be laced with something bad. (Paranoia, another long term side-effect of unemployment). But then I thought “what if someone died and left all their money to me?” So there I stood on my porch in my house pants holding this non-descript letter thinking “poison or money?”
I decided to chance it, ripped open the envelope and unfolded a full page (8 1/2 x 11 college ruled) hand-written letter. Getting excited and starting to dream about all the things I could do with this new-found money, I started reading. “Dear neighbor…blah, blah, God’s kingdom, blah, evil-doers, hell, fire, prayer…” and then it went on to quote verses and chapters from the bible trying to recruit me to join. After picking my jaw up off the ground, a number of thoughts rushed into my mind, including:
- You have to be kidding me…now they’re coming at me via the U.S. Postal Service and they are spending money on stamps in this economic climate?
- What happened to the street crew that used to knock on my door, did they get laid off or something? I enjoyed answering the door as a recovering Catholic sporting level 1 house pants, fully packed black undereye bags with a wine-glass in hand before noon.
- What happened to their silent prayers for me and when did I get labeled as an evil-doer? Is this because of my effing swearing problem?
Creepy, annoying or brilliant marketing? I’d have to say I personally experienced two of the three and I’m going to describe it to you as if I am tasting fine wine (why not, I am bored). The letter opened with notes of creepy and as the words danced across my palate, flirting with my nerves was a strong sense of annoyance, but the experience ultimately finished with joyful amusement at the thought of everything funny I could do with that letter. While I doubt that one of their campaign goals was amusement, spreading awareness was probably on the list and I helped build on that because that letter ultimately got tucked into the sleeping bag cover of my visiting sister. Next time she unrolls her sleeping bag, she’ll be made aware, likely get weirded out, and then laugh realizing it was me (because I did something like this before with a VHS Jesus-tape that was left on my porch…hmm…is someone trying to tell me something?).
As for brilliant marketing, a friend suggested this idea to me a couple weeks ago saying “pretend your favorite clothing designer hand wrote and personalized a full page letter to you, wouldn’t that be exciting?” Despite my lack of style so much so that I’m worried Stacy and Clinton of What Not to Wear may show up at my door anyday, my friend is right. If the person sending this letter had been anyone other than this marketer, perhaps I’d have experienced that excitement. Guess in my case, their targeting was slightly off.
Disclaimer. I realize that talking about religion is a taboo subject, but I just thought this particular story was an interesting example of an average consumer’s reaction to mailbox marketing. I don’t think any one religion is better than another.