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
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 (www.maxracks.com) 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.
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.