Worth a Thousand Words

Today’s case study is a wonderful illustration of the famous saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

(Anyone know the origin of that saying? For those of you in other countries, especially where English isn’t the native language, do you have a similar expression? Please email me. I’m curious).

OK, back to our topic. Today’s case study illustrates how a picture sent via email can be so compelling that the self-promotional campaign became the highest-pulling one yet for the advertising agency responsible for it.

Let me demonstrate. Rather than tell you about the campaign, I’ll show you. Fire up Internet Explorer (the message appears out of whack in Netscape Navigator and other browsers) and head on over to: http://www.passaicparc.com/promomail/. When you’re finished checking it out, come on back for comments and facts about the campaign.

Back? Great. What you saw, assuming you clicked the link, was an email marketing campaign sent out by Passaic Parc, an advertising agency in Wellesley, MA. Robert Rosenthal, the company president, says he views email as the most exciting ad medium. He approached this campaign as he would a magazine ad — with the premise that email is a wonderful canvas for conceptual advertising.

Passaic Parc got a photograph of an art gallery and went to work inserting clients’ ads into the frames on the gallery walls.

This is my favorite part of the ad. I love the feeling of discovering the hidden treasures behind the panels of each picture. It makes the ad feel like an adventure, bringing to mind the first time I played “Myst.” It may not be for everyone, but it certainly worked for me — and apparently many other recipients.

The graphic contains a line reading, “click inside each frame to see the full email ad.” It would have been ideal if recipients could know that without text breaking up the visual. The indication that one could interact with the panels was probably necessary. Without it, too many recipients would miss the best part.

The body copy is intended to impart the feel of a magazine ad (although it contains one lamentable grammatical error in the second line). The promotion: a business-to-business (B2B) pitch for Passaic Parc’s “Optimarketing” program. The offer: a free copy of its “Email as Modern Art That Breaks Records” report and a subscription to the company online newsletter. The subject line: “Check out the email ad marketers are raving about.”

The ad was emailed on November 14 to about 3,100 strategic marketing executives and direct marketers. Many of the names came from rented lists. This week, about 12 hours before I wrote this article, the email was sent to Passaic Parc’s own house list. (In other words, the mailing was sent Monday evening, and I’m writing on Tuesday morning).

As I mentioned earlier, the campaign has outshone any of Passaic Parc’s promotional campaigns. Rosenthal supplied the latest stats: The first push to the rented lists generated about 50 leads; the second push generated about 70 leads (in only a few hours — more are coming in). Adding up the results from both lists, that one email produced over 120 leads. Rosenthal predicts quite a few more over the next couple of days.

Good stuff for a B2B campaign. It’s got me thinking about how to include a picture in my next article…

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