Clutter-killer round-up

I think the coolest DM piece that I've seen recently is the mini CD-ROM.

Lorena Chiarotto, direct response director, Halogen, Toronto

I think the coolest DM piece that I’ve seen recently is the mini CD-ROM. I have seen them distributed as addressed mailers in a sleeve that looks like a postcard. The outside is usually heavily branded and when you open it up you find the CD, which typically has interactive games, clips of commercials, music, news, etc. A link to the client’s Web site where the consumer can get coupons, free samples, register for discounts, etc., is usually included. Of course, the consumer can not get the goods until they leave some personal information.

I have not used this format to date because it is a little cost prohibitive, but I would definitely recommend it to a client that has a strong Web site and is trying to attract traffic to that site. The strength of this execution is that the transition from the CD to the Web site is seamless, and consumers have a high perceived-value of the CD (because it usually contains games, music, etc.). I have heard that the response rates are quite strong. It makes sense because if you can get the consumer to put the CD in their PC, it is not difficult to get them to your Web site. I think it is a great opportunity to build the brand while building in response metrics.

Amanda Howard, production manager, Parallel, Calgary

We’re trying to create a less expensive option to a hologram. We often have clients ask about holographic print techniques but once the costs come out, we have to come up a different solution. I’m currently in the midst of printing a job using stochastic printing and using an offline varnish technique whereby we purposely print the matte/gloss varnishes off-register to achieve a 3D appearance.

The other thing I’d love to try is scratch-and-sniff inks, but again cost factors in.

Other breakthrough ideas we’ve tried in the past include odd-sized, unique packaging (for small targeted direct-mail campaigns), which have been effective in reaching our target audience.

Randy Tait, VP printing and production, Brann Worldwide, Toronto

Variable digital printing. There are a few manufacturers who work in this area including Indigo, XEROX and Chromapress. Essentially, the equipment produces four-colour print materials with variable technology – that is, it can print a piece and, based on a database-driven set of instructions, it can change images as well as type from one piece to the next.

For a direct mail program, each recipient can receive a piece that is fully customized to them, including pictures that appeal to them (based on database information). It is a very economical format at lower quantities, but gets a little cost prohibitive as you get over 2,000 to 3,000 pieces. The running time is also slower than conventional printing.

I have used it in a small capacity, not fully using its capabilities. It requires a lot of planning and data to make full use of it and our industry tends to want quicker solutions. I would love to use it on a complicated program.

About five years ago, I used a complicated in-line printing process that included printing, lasering, die-cutting, collating, gluing, folding and sealing in one pass of the press. The finished product came off the end of the press – an in-line half web – ready to go into the mail system. It’s something I would definitely use again – it was fun to plan and the end product was sensational. The results were also very good.