Using photographs in direct-mail packages focused on animal abuse is a tricky thing. What kinds of photos do you use? Ones that depict the suffering of animals? This could be a turn-off for recipients. And if recipients are unable to handle the images shown in a mailing, chances are they’ll turn away before making a donation. Not the desired result.
I’ve seen a lot of mailings that use pictures of abused pets, horses or other livestock. They’re shocking and terrible, and they trigger a ton of emotions. But it’s a lot to handle and can catch recipients off guard, leading to a whole host of other emotions -- sometimes sour ones toward the organization.
This mailing from The National Anti-Vivisection Society focuses on animals that are used for research, and it uses images perfectly. Half of the images show healthy dogs, their eyes staring out at recipients. The other half are abstract photos of sad-looking dogs in cages. They’re terrible but not necessarily gruesome. NAVS gets its message across powerfully through the combination of these images and tough, “you-should-be-outraged” copy.
For example, the outer envelope features a photograph of a healthy, adorable dog, one paw up, next to the headline, “Betrayed! What’s being done to our faithful companions … and how you can help us stop it!” The photo of the healthy dog elicits a sense of hope and a desire to help, without running the risk of dissuading the recipient from reading further into the package.
The organization draws on this connection made on the outer envelope and features a photo of a caged dog on the 8.5-inch-by-11-inch letter next to equally strong language, “If you are as outraged as we are about scientists conducting cruel and unnecessary medical experiments on dogs, then please help us put a stop to it!” In this way, NAVS does a good job of building its case for outrage without making recipients outraged at the organization itself.