Founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner, whose 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunken driver, MADD was born of tragedy and run by passionate people dedicated to leaving the world a better place than when they found it.
When you send MADD money, no doubt exists where that money goes: to make more mailings to educate people and swell the membership of local organizations that, in turn, will change behavior and influence lawmakers and judges. Probably the best way to pound home the dangers of drinking and driving would be a MADD effort in the mailbox of every person of legal drinking age in America every day of the year. It is a truly splendid organization doing great, great works.
The MADD control mailing
Over the years, I have received a slew of MADD mailings. In the past, they were highly charged efforts, always with personalized return-address labels and the bright-red MADD logo. When people used these labels on their mail, it multiplied the message many times over — a reminder not to drink and drive.
And talk about emotional appeals … here’s the lead of a Christmas effort some years ago, written in typewriter type (“A letter should look like a letter,” said the late guru Dick Benson):
These address labels can help insure the safe arrival of your holiday mail. If only we could do the same for our friends and loved ones!
Dear Special Friend,
What will you and your family remember about this holiday season? The doorbell …
… as friends and loved ones arrive for a joyous celebration, or …
… as a policeman begins by saying, “I’m sorry, there’s been a crash.”
The telephone …
… with a cheerful greeting from a friend or family member, or …
… with the tragic message that someone close to you has been killed or seriously injured.
So what happened?
Strong stuff. So, when I saw the current MADD control, I was disappointed. The old raw emotion and bite are gone. Even the MADD logo is in a different, sanitized, sans serif font. It arrives in a 6-inch-by-11-inch envelope that opens endwise and is loaded with personalization. Turn the envelope over, and you can see the contents through the semi-opaque paper. Remove the contents, and the inside of the envelope has a bunch of facts and figures that, unfortunately, are unreadable through the covering.
Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.