Mmm, Mmm not good

There are certain products that you grow up with. They're with you during good times and bad, from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. Over time, you don't just support them, you create a bond with them. You trust these products and the companies that produce them so much that you consider them to be part of your family. So when they let you down, you really feel it.

There are certain products that you grow up with. They’re with you during good times and bad, from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. Over time, you don’t just support them, you create a bond with them. You trust these products and the companies that produce them so much that you consider them to be part of your family. So when they let you down, you really feel it.

I know. I’ve just gone through one of those deflating experiences. Over Campbell’s. The soup people. Purveyor of products that have warmed me up when I’ve been cold, soothed me when I’ve been sick, and helped me add something special to recipes too numerous to mention.

My problem with them began this spring when I noticed they had a special offer, promising to send customers a 100% cotton ‘Mario Lemieux Official Team Canada T-shirt’ in exchange for three Chunky® Soup UPC symbols and $15.80 ($10 for T-shirt and $5.80 S&H). With two hockey-crazed children in the household, along with parents who appreciate the simplicity of ready-made Chunky Soup, it seemed like an offer made in heaven for our family. So I broke the news to four-year-old Taylor and seven-year-old Jeremy: consume three tins each and Mom and I’ll pony up the monetary requirement.

Minutes later, they were diving into bowls of the Chunky Split Pea and Ham we had on hand. The next day, they were devouring Original Beef. The following day they were downing Beef and Vegetable. And so it continued, each offspring consuming his or her required half tin until a total of six tins had been emptied. Before you could say ‘Mmm, Mmm Good,’ we were mailing a cheque for $31.60 with six labels and a covering letter requesting two children’s sized T-shirts.

In case you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young or don’t have kids of your own, time for children is measured like dog years, i.e., a one-day wait for an adult is the equivalent of a week for a child. Therefore, my kids’ waiting the stipulated ‘up to six weeks for delivery’ was like you or me counting the hours for almost a year. So you certainly don’t want to wait a moment longer than necessary.

It seemed to take forever but finally April 30 arrived. This was the day, 42 days after ordering, that the T-shirts surely would be delivered; after all, Mr. Campbell had promised. But were they sitting in the mailbox as expected? No. Next day? No. Next week? No. So much time went by, the young’uns eventually grew as sick of asking ‘Did they come yet?’ as I was of hearing the question. They ended up abandoning their hopes of receiving their T-shirts and, unfortunately for Campbell’s profit picture, gave up on consuming any more of what is now being termed ‘Liar’s Soup.’

Wanting to give Campbell’s every opportunity to live up to their word and explain away their mistake, I wrote them again on May 29. I reminded them of my order which was now at least a month overdue and pointed out that they had been efficient in cashing my cheque; it had only taken them until April 5 to grab my loot.

I should have added that hockey season was almost over and that receiving a Team Canada T-shirt in summer is as exciting as being given a sand pail in mid-winter.

Having brought the sorry matter to the attention of my lifelong friends at Campbell’s, I felt better. I was sure of what would happen next. The T-shirts would probably arrive by overnight courier, accompanied by a letter of profound apology. Undoubtedly, there would be corporate contrition and teeth-gnashing in abundance throughout their correspondence. Maybe they’d go beyond mere writing, I mused. Perhaps they’d be so remorseful, they’d arrange to have Mario autograph the T-shirts…or get him to deliver them himself! Remember, we’re talking about Campbell’s. They understand families. Hell, they feature their own kids in their ads.

Regrettably, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s now August. And here’s what I’ve heard: Nada. Rien. Zip. From Campbell’s, that is. I’ve heard plenty from my kids who now equate Mr. Campbell with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

You don’t have to be a DM guru to know that when you make an offer to customers, you’d better fulfill it if you want them to remain your customers – especially if you’ve already cashed the guy’s cheque for over $30. That’s doubly true when the transaction involves children, because they’re forming their brand preferences now and have 70 or 80 years’ worth of purchasing ahead of them. If you’re Campbell’s, you want youngsters to think red and white when they contemplate soup, not see red. Of course if you’re somebody like Lipton’s….

Wondering if you might be committing stupid DM tricks without knowing it? Find out while ‘Dr. Bob’ is offering a Free Trial Diagnosis and Prescription. Or have Bob Knight of Knight & Associates create a new ‘doctor-approved’ direct mail, e, or integrated campaign for you. Details on either option available via e-mail: b_knight@telus.net.