TOKYO (majirox news) — Anyone who has ever cracked a book on advertising knows, almost right at the beginning, that one is going to hit a chapter on getting direct mail delivered–in other words, making sure that the mail carrier doesn’t throw it away in disgust because the junk mail is just making the carrier’s mailbag heavier.
In Brooklyn, New York, it was discovered that postal workers had been throwing away junk mail rather than delivering it. Their favorite place to dispose of it was an abandoned building on their route. After about five years, it was finally discovered when the floor collapsed due to the weight of all the junk mail that had been piled up on it.
Dan Kennedy, one of the top copywriters in the United States, titled a section of his best-selling book The Ultimate Sales Letter “Getting Your Sales Letter Delivered.” He advocated such tricks as making junk mail look like an official government document. Bob Bly, another well-known copywriter, has advocated similar tricks for composing direct mail.
Direct mail is the trade term for those letters stuffed in your mailbox from people you never wanted to hear from, offering deals you can’t (they hoped) resist.
It has been replaced by junk e-mails to your computer inbox offering fake Viagra, a letter from the long-lost son of the King of the Republic of San Blotto asking to deposit $6 million to your bank account or a computer virus hidden in a seductive photo that will screw up your computer forever.
Basically, junk mail (or direct mail) is trying to sell you something through the mail, and most people hate it.
“At least one thing we never have to worry about with the Japanese Post Office is getting our letters thrown away by a rogue postmaster,” a reporter in Japan once wrote to Bly.
It’s time to eat honorable words.
In August, a total of three employees from Tochigi prefecture at the Utsunomiya and Nasukarasuyama city offices of Yamato Transport, a big deliverer for Takuhai Bin and other home delivery services–their trademark is the black cat–got caught feeding junk mail into the incinerator or dumping it into the garbage. Yamato claims that “900 letters were destroyed.”
The perpetrators confessed that they had been doing it for the past five years because they “didn’t have enough people to deliver all this stuff, and now and then we destroyed it when we got too backed up.”
To people who have sent out more than one direct mail piece, 900 letters sounds like nothing. Typically, a direct mail campaign will number tens or hundreds of thousands of letters or catalogs. If they had been destroying letters for five years, the total was probably 1,000 times as much as Yamato says.
It’s likely the companies that sent out junk mail… excuse me, direct mail… would have preferred to have the perpetrators put up against a wall and shot. As it is, Yamato returned their money and fired the junk mail burners.
The people who never received their junk mail would probably have liked to kiss them on both cheeks, hang a gold metal on them, and give them a ticker-tape parade down the main street of Utsunomiya, if the city has a main street.
After all, this is Japan, where they don’t have main streets, and as a reporter once wrote to Bly, things like this just don’t happen here.