Thursday, 6 May 2010


So, it's finally Polling Day, and about time too. I tell you, if we didn't have this every four years I don't know how I'd satisfy my putting-crosses-in-boxes proclivity.

This time around, I was up at 5am in South-West London to play direct mail boy for the Lib Dems, and it was pretty enlightening. Great fun too. (and I have to say in passing that the feeling I got from having helped out was well worth it, I'll be doing it again) I got to distribute 200 of these -

<--- image justified to left. Ha! Ha!

The following thoughts are dedicated to anyone who's ever instigated a direct mail campaign and wonders what it's like. Extra, extra, read all about it:

-Here is the ideal door. Simple flap that opens outwards, isn't sprung-loaded to fuck, and hasn't got those weird boot-brushes inside. Don't let anyone tell you different, the brushes are intended to stop flyering, pure and simple. They're essentially an economically-tuned filter; crap paper stock isn't strong enough to push through. If you get lumbered with such a thing, try folding your flyer to make it thicker, and push it fold first so it 'cuts' through the brushes.

-Next door along, and this one's tough because of the sounds of massive dog resonating within. This was still very early in the morning, but you're wary of taking chances. The owners have tried to give their abode a 'run-down' vibe with the strange gray paint and wonky doormat, but it's not enough to hold back a political ninja like me. Should've gone for the "I've taped up my letterbox so they can't get me" vibe:

-Once you start to see the act of forcibly inserting flyers into people's personal spaces through a small slot in a psychosexual context, it's almost impossible to shake. So don't start.

-Some gates are impossible to close. As a mild obsessive, this became rather distressing.

-Positioning relative to the road is all-important in affecting delivery time. Here we see an ideal scenario. This is also the reason why estates are so popular with the door-drop crowd. Longer drives probably have something to do with it, but I wonder why the external mail box system is prevalent in the US but nonexistent here. A conspiracy between the US mail service and advertisers? Most likely.

-Those 'no junk mail' gambits come in more varieties than you can imagine, and strangely I found myself treating different kinds in different ways. So, here's my roundup of anti-mail measures, from least effective to most:

-Standard No Junk Mail sign. Makes you stop and think, but actually provoked me into thinking "how dare you call my vital communication junk mail? I shall give this to you just to show you how wrong you are"

-Same, but printed on a plaque of some sort. "Damn, this guy would pay to keep mail away? He is a) quite serious about it, and b) sufficiently resourced to hunt me down". They work on the newbies.

-Homemade sign with cute, friendly element. Okay, so this is our sign at home, but it works because it wins over the deliverer (who, remember, is doing a fairly boring and thankless job and will appreciate the 'interaction'. Interestingly though, we still got mail from all the other parties, which tells you their opinion of their own stuff.

Or maybe we could make it clearer.

-Sign with implied/explicit 'green' agenda. These will be in a green typeface or have some sort of environmental organisation's endorsement, or a specific recyling message. These certainly made me stop, as it combines direct request with a challenge to your very profession. I reckon these are the way to go.

One last thought. As I set off on a task which I was excited to try, for a party I was proud to help, I had high spirits. But when I got to the crunch of actual delivery, I felt a little sleazy, like an unwanted intruder, an invader on personal space. I was hoping I wouldn't get caught in the act. And yet, I've instigated a few Door Drop mail campaigns over the past year without a hint of remorse - and those were for commercial products, not political enterprise in the name of fairness. And to anyone else in advertising - what exactly do you think your actions constitute? Have a think about what your campaigns actually mean for the recipient.

And for Door Drop Guy.


p.s. fucking VOTE WILL YOU