MARKETING MIX: COMMENT; Compose all your mail to the letter for more clarity

While I speak two other languages rather badly, I don’t know the literature of other lands well enough to know if they share the English delight in silly names. This perhaps reached its peak with Beachcomber who dreamt up such splendid names as Mr Justice Cocklecarrot and Captain Foulenough. The Americans are good at this too; the Marx brothers films contain some pretty dippy cognomens.

While I speak two other languages rather badly, I don’t know the

literature of other lands well enough to know if they share the English

delight in silly names. This perhaps reached its peak with Beachcomber

who dreamt up such splendid names as Mr Justice Cocklecarrot and Captain

Foulenough. The Americans are good at this too; the Marx brothers films

contain some pretty dippy cognomens.



The direct marketing industry has inadvertently often made contributions

in this area through silly mistakes made when transferring names and

addresses onto databases. One person has, in a small way, exploited this

by creating a little publication called Junk Mail Backlash. It is an odd

melange of the sort of jokes you see in Viz with laments that direct

mail is gobbling up all the trees on the planet (which it isn’t) as well

as a pleasing variation on the Henry Root Letters, which, you may

recall, was a book of stupid letters written to famous people with their

equally stupid replies.



The editor fittingly calls himself D S Perado and has written to various

firms under such names as Captain O Groinsyrup and Mr A Poodleshafter

and printed their solemn replies. To assist readers who are not au fait

with the rich panoply of English slang obscenities, this kindly

entrepreneur even provides a select glossary from which even I, who

spent many years at school trying to develop my facility in this area,

picked up a thing or two.



The letter I liked most was signed by Jan Smith when she was at Mazda.

I’ve never met Jan, but every now and then somehow she catches my eye in

the context of something I find either mildly entertaining or even

slightly ludicrous.



For instance, the other day I read that after being in her present job

as a strategic marketing director for about eight months, she has

initiated a strategic review. I can’t believe this. Such a review is

obviously the first thing to do on arriving, no matter how much deep

thought matters of high strategy require before being entered into.



The letter (complete with grammatical error in the fourth line) was in

response to an enquiry from a Mr A Pencilcock. It is far too short to be

persuasive, but contains this memorable sequence: ‘Whilst standing still

this car echoes the serenity of a perfectly honed [sic] sculpture.’ I

will give a prize to anyone who can convince me this absurd piece of

literary horse-shit could, even slightly, motivate anybody to buy a car

rather than say to themselves ‘What pretentious twaddle’. No wonder

Mazda sales slumped. (And I might add, by the way, that their ugly new

ads won’t be much help).



I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating. If your firm sends

out letters and by mischance your name is on them, do scan them, however

casually, to ensure that even if not brilliant, they are vaguely

competent. This is because, astonishingly, when people enquire about

your product they do so in the hope of being better informed, rather

than confused, insulted, condescended to, patronised or just plain

pissed off.



Drayton Bird runs the Drayton Bird Partnership



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