Boxing Up a Message
You’ve probably seen the Thanksgiving mailings many food banks send each year that use brown paper lunch bags as the carrier. It’s a great idea. These mailings always catch my eye for their unique size, shape and look when compared to the oft-used white No. 10 and even the 6-inch-by-9-inch carriers. But more organizations — mostly food banks, but I’ve seen animal shelters use this format as well — are mailing brown bags, and the novelty has worn off a bit. I noticed this sadly, as I perused the direct mail that had accumulated in our Who’s Mailing What! direct mail Archive last month. And then I saw this mailing.
Sent by the Food Bank for New York City, it resembles the brown bag mailings enough so that I immediately thought “food bank,” but is intriguingly different. It’s mailed in a 6-inch-by-9-inch paper outer that is designed to resemble a brown cardboard box. To complete the “package” look, the address box, return address and stamp are on a white mailing label, and a faux black stamp reads, “Contents: Fresh Food. New Hope.” The stamp appears again, but larger, below the envelope flap on the back of the carrier.
The brown cardboard box outer works for the Food Bank for New York City because it gives boxes, not bags, of food to those in need. The mailing’s symbolism works and is carried through all of its elements. The first paragraph of the letter begins, “To most of us, a box is just a box. But to the many less fortunate New Yorkers who rely on the Food Bank for New York City for the food they need in the toughest times, a simple box can be so much more. …” Copy at the top of the reply device reads, “Food and Hope for Hungry New Yorkers — It’s in the Bag,” with the word “Bag” crossed out and “Box!” written in a handwriting-style font next to it. The mailing also includes a 3.5-inch-by-5-inch sticker for donors to fill out with a personalized message to the needy, which will be affixed to a care box.