Help the Aged ‘...little piece of plastic’ direct mail acquisition pack
The original pack, in all its detail. To enable you to read each component we’ve included it all on this page.
Below, the envelope that caused all the excitement – direct mail fundraising that, literally, went like a bomb!
More case studies from Help the Aged
The story behind one of SOFII’s ‘Best of the Best’:
Medium of communication:Direct mail.
Type of charity:Healthcare, seniors.
Country of origin:UK.
Written and created by Chris Stoddard when at the Direct Results agency (Chris is now at CSDM Ltd). Direct Results had just won the HTA account. The idea for the pack came about when he was taking the opaque plastic lid off a takeaway cup of coffee on the train from Bristol to London. He says, ‘Seeing the palm of my hand through the opaque plastic made me think what it might be like to have cataracts.’
Name of exhibitor:
Date of first appearance:1988.
When the pack was first created Brian Wright was head of marketing at HTA and Sue Pepper was direct mail manager. Sue briefed Chris to come up with a more successful acquisition pack.
Help the Aged told Chris Stoddard that some 200,000 elderly people in India had been treated for cataracts as a result of money raised from donors recruited by the pack.
After the plastic explosives incident we had to find an alternative envelope message and came up with the one currently on the site. The new one was used for many years.
The pack was very cheap to produce as the plastic squares were imported from South Africa.
The pack helped to recruit many thousands of donors very cost-effectively.
Relevant involvement devices like this one still work, usually doubling results when compared with the same pack without the involvement device.
Other relevant information:
The pack was used consistently as Help the Aged’s control acquisition pack for at least 10 years, unchanged. Variations of it have been used by HTA regularly ever since.
Further information from another SOFII user:
SOFII will try to get hold of the different copy versions. This is one of a number of copy tests that agencies in the UK, notably Target and Burnett Associates, introduced at this time for different clients. The purpose was to see if it was worthwhile to segment donor databases into men and women and write differently to each. The concept (based we suppose on men coming from Mars and women coming from Venus) is that direct mail copy, being long, discursive and generally emotional, is usually directed at women, whereas men might prefer (and therefore respond better to) copy that is short, factual and to the point.
These tests showed that there is some validity in this hypothesis, but it is expensive to implement consistently.
Watch SOFII’s updates for more information.