Postcards On the Edge


Postcards On the Edge

Free, funny postcards are the hottest trend in advertising

You're probably used to the idea of your promotional material being postmarked and mailed to customers, but how would you feel if it was stowed next to public restrooms, used as art for an office cubicle or traded like baseball cards for more desirable glow-in-the-dark ads?

Movie studios, car companies, art galleries, nightclubs – even jewelry designers – advertise their hottest products on postcards – but it's not what you think. Aimed at consumers ages 21 to 39, the cards scream trendiness with timely promotional icons (the VW Beetle) or loopy, ironic photography. Instead of mailing them, advertisers sprinkle the postcards around major metropolitan areas and wait for young consumers searching for stimulation to discover, collect and covet them.

Companies such as m@x Racks and GoCard created the postcard craze with free card racks they hang in the restaurants, bars or coffee shops of the hour in major U.S. and Japanese cities. Advertisers supply their own artwork and pay a monthly fee to have postcards distributed in a market. According to Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine,placing 60,000 postcards in 80 venues in Philly costs about $4,000 a month. Companies spend the money because it's one of the only forms of advertising people seek out instead of receive passively, says the Inquirer.

Once the cards are in circulation, they pass through a number of hands and are traded all over the world. Bar patrons who grab a stack on the way out the door may use them to send funny letters to friends or pin them to bulletin boards to make statements. People who spot the m@x Racks Web site address ( on the backs of the cards may visit the site's pen pal board, where card collectors from Malaysia to Texas seek new friends for trading. Though it's hard to track the ads' effectiveness, they do have the potential to reach two or three tiers of consumers before their final destinations.

Cashing in on the postcard trend doesn't have to be pricey for retailers. Companies such as Modern Postcard in Carlsbad, CA, which caters to the jewelry industry, will print 500 postcards for $95. Use edgy, provocative art and humor to appeal to young audiences, and distribute them on your counters, at craft fairs or in local coffeeshops where there's space for public postings. If you're interested in hosting a postcard rack in your store, the rack companies will give you a free display rack and even print cards for your store as rent for your space.

Card Sources:

Modern Postcard, Carlsbad, CA; (800) 959-8365.

m@x Racks, New York, NY; (212) 575-2800.

GoCard Postcard Advertising, New York, NY; (212) 925-2420.

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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