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Mailbox Monday


Offering a financial incentive (that would be "bribing" to us laypeople) to switch banks is nothing new. In fact, we've worked on dozens of packages for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch that followed exactly that strategy.

So, when we received this simple three-panel self-mailer recently, we recognized the campaign's objective.

The mail side includes the logo and return address of the sender, in this case Citizens Bank. There's a teaser which reads "Exclusively for you — get up to $700 on us" and the warning that "Offer ends 1/18/21."

So far, so good.

The art side or cover of the piece uses a handwriting font in black and green to proclaim, "YOU'RE MADE READY FOR $700." eye-catching? Yes. Confusing? Also, yes. What does "made ready" mean? We looked it up in case it was some millennial or gen Z slang that we, being young boomers (but boomers nonetheless) didn't get. The closest thing we could find was the past tense of "make ready" and a Biblical reference: "The steps of a good man are made ready by the LORD."

Regardless of our fruitless search, there are certainly more conversational ways to say that. How about "ARE YOU READY FOR $700?"

The next issue is a long-term pet peeve of ours.

The three-panel mailer is sealed with fugitive glue (that's not the peeve) and there is no way to open it without the interior being upside down (there, that's the peeve). One might argue that making the recipient turn the opened brochure right-side up forces them to engage with it longer. Then again, one might argue that making the recipient turn the opened brochure rightside up is annoying.

Inside, the "make ready" mystery is solved, sort of. The headline reads, "READY FOR WHAT'S NEXT" then "GET UP TO $700 FOR SWITCHING BANKS." Additional potential rewards ($300 or $400 + $300) are coupled with copy that details each tier of the offer. And, some lean copy follows, listing the types and benefits of Citizens checking accounts.

There are multiple ways to respond: QR code, offer code, toll-free number, branch visit, or by appointment. And, finally, there's an overleaf panel of disclosures, terms, and conditions.

The package is appropriately lean, but the hero headline — the first thing many people might read — is awkward to say the least. (It's almost as if English weren't the copywriter's first language. And, while we support learning as many languages as possible, marketing copy really should sound natural and familiar.) And, we can't get past that inside/outside/upside down layout.

$700 or not, the Bs give the campaign a thumbs down.


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