The snail mail industry is suffering dramatically, a trend that gains prominence near the holiday season. More and more people are going online to send their Christmas cards, and marketers are increasingly favoring the web over print advertisements.
In an effort to regain appeal, the Royal Mail is trying a new approach to add dimension to traditional mailing. The UK postal service is encouraging mailers to supplement their paper mailings with scents, flavors, sounds and textures.
If mailed adverts incorporated familiar ad jingles in cards that play audio when opened, it could elevate mail sorting to a whole new level of fun. Why should scents be restricted to perfume? What about an ad for a local coffee shop with sweet wafts of Christmas flavours like gingerbread and egg nog? Even better: a free food or beverage sample. Imagine Coca-Cola has a new flavour and you get a little sample in the mail similar to shampoo sample packets.
"This takes direct mail from a two-dimensional medium and turns it into a three-, four- or five-dimensional medium," said Simon Harrop of Brand Sense, an Oxford agency working on a program with the Royal Mail.
"Under the partnership with Brand Sense, the Royal Mail will use a sales force of about 300 employees to encourage businesses to try the new offerings and to help design mailings," the New York Times explained.
"'This is about reinventing mail,' said Antony Miller, head of media development at the Royal Mail. 'The mail of yesterday is not necessarily the mail of tomorrow.'"
I know many people think I'm crazy for thinking this way, but I think rifling through junk mail can be pretty entertaining. Scratch and win ads are a favourite (interaction), perfume ads with lift-off tabs (scent) and free beauty product sample packets (touch, brand interaction) are some of the best.
If they start incorporating additional samples, people may just rush to their mail boxes again, getting excited each time the post man makes his rounds.