|This is not the first direct mail piece I wrote, but it was certainly one of the most effective.|
It was 1979, I had arrived in the Twin Cities after working for Keroff & Rosenberg in Chicago, the Summer of Settling In was over, and I mailed this out to the 75 qualified ad agencies here. My resume was on the back. A dozen agencies responded in the first two days. Two job offers came in. I started at Campbell-Mithun a few weeks later.
|I wrote this newspaper ad in 1980. The sun logo (by John Worden, who also did the layout), the "Always 95 and Sunny" and the "Most Listened To" (ugh!) were givens.|
Last time I checked, which wasn't that recently, as I'm more of a KNOW/KREV kinda guy, they're still running the contest and using the line.
|Avery & Streitz was Hirshfield's in-house agency for years. Mike Streitz, the Creative Director, developed some of Northwest Orient Airlines' most interesting early campaigns when he was at Campbell-Mithun. He hired me to take the "Ask Mr. H." campaign one step further.|
"We get you started right" continued for years and years. It's dead now, like most of my elderly uncles. The campaign was rooted in a radio campaign involving members of the Chicago Symphony (working double scale on a buyout -- hey, even first chair concert cellists need extra bucks) and the guys who were and maybe still are the Ides of March (they were my vehicle) with substantial assistance from MTS Music of Chicago.
Another substantial contribution I made here was white space. It was a fresh concept in 1983. Thank you, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, for what I learned working on my Master of Fine Art degree (which I never completed, but that's another story).
|One of my first real concept pieces. Bake-Rite of Wisconsin, makers of Mrs. Carter's Bread, had a contract with several schools to provide lunch sandwiches. That was a radical idea in 1977. Even more radical was spinning it off into pre-packaged products that -- heavens!!! -- saved Mom the trouble of making a sandwich for junior's bag lunch.|
Latter Day Apologies for the sexism. Even as I worked, helping to put my wife through medical school, we knew not what we wuz dooin' back then. (To demonstrate my pennance, I refer you to Minnesota Dads At Home; I'm on the Board of Directors.)
|I established the Financial Update Network (see History Part One for more info) in 1983. It was a groundbreaking online business, dedicated to providing up-to-the-minute home mortgage information, mostly for Realtors and other real estate professionals. This was the inside spread of the brochure. John Worden did the layout.|
|This ran as an ad in a real estate magazine and was handed out at trade shows.|
|One of a series of inexpensive (but good) ads for an ... uhm ... interesting product.|
The trick here was to keep the production values cheap and present the client in a good light. Humor works well for the latter, and simple line art provides the necessities of the former.
Created in 1984 for the weasels at the late but unlamented (at least not in my office) Hilleman House Advertising, which didn't give me credit when one of my ads won an award. But let's not quibble at this advanced date.
|St. John's was all set to open a new hospital ... something unusual in 1987 ... and they needed a campaign that blended the good feelings of the old with the grand design that included the new. This was part of it.|
Ads for the old hospital started with "Still...." Ads for the new started with "Finally...." Otherwise, they were essentially the same. That wasn't my idea. But I had no problem with it.
The original headline for this one, however, was "Finally...Room Service For One At No Extra Cost." The client thought it sounded too much like a hotel ad. Naturally, you don't want to feel like your hospital is as comfortable as a posh hotel, right? Right? Heck, what do I know, I'm just a writer.
|Another really successful direct mail piece I sent out, this one in the dead of the very, very cold winter of 1981-82. More than one day started out at 30 below. And we ain't talkin' windchill here.|
I mailed this to all of the ad agencies and all of the corporate promotion departments in the Twin Cities. A few follow-up phone calls later (I think I made it through the D's), I had enough work to keep me busy for years. I haven't mailed a piece like this since.
Carl Cedergren did the illustration. I wrote the copy and provided the layout, inspired by (of all things) a single panel from a 1940's comic called The Spirit, by Will Eisner. Attention all graphic designers, filmmakers and videographers: check it out at your local retro comix store.