Simon Robinson, integrated creative director, Kitcatt Nohr Digitas, received a surprising item of direct mail recently – from Google. It’s got everything a piece of direct mail should.... in the 1980s. So, why is one of the world’s coolest companies making such uncreative use of marketing’s least fashionable media?
October has been an amazing month. Two earth-shattering events have challenged the fundamental laws of the universe. First, physicists discover sub-atomic particles that travel faster than the speed of light. Second, Google send some direct mail.
I’m not sure which event shattered more of my earth, actually. The one that proves it’s possible to travel backwards in time. Or the one that involves particles travelling faster than the speed of light.
Joking aside, there is something fundamentally amazing about Google using the least fashionable of all marketing media to promote itself. Think about it, here is one of the ‘Gang of Four’ companies that its former leader Eric Schmidt says ‘matter’ (in case you’ve been travelling through time, the others are Apple, Facebook and Amazon) adopting techniques that we direct folk have been banging on about for ever.
Google’s direct mail piece is targeted, personalized and designed to drive a response. Three of the basics of all responsive advertising. (And three of the pillars of Google’s own advertising offering.) It promises me £75 of online advertising free. It even gives me a popout card to remind me of my personal login. It’s got everything any direct marketer could ever have wished for. In the 1980s.
The only thing it lacks is an idea.
And that’s the thing I feel bad about in the advertising I see on Google as well as the advertising I see from Google. And on Facebook, for that matter. It’s got all the targeting, personalization and data you could ever wish for. But it has no idea. Nothing that makes it more than the sum of its parts. It just isn’t creative.
And that’s the kind of time travel none of us wants, is it?
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