As I sit and write this, I have on my desk a tin. It might be baked beans, it might be condensed milk, but I’ve got no idea because instead of a label, it’s got a flyer wrapped around it. “Duckie Loves Fanny” it reads. “4fl oz femme icon condensed.”
Now I’m confused. What is Duckie Loves Fanny? What’s in the tin and am I supposed to be opening it? Is it a sample from some hip new soup company?
It takes rather a lot of reading of the accompanying press release to work out that no, I’m not. It’s just a gimmick to promote a drag night in Walthamstow celebrating Fanny Cradock. So totally irrelevant to a food editor. Who Duckie is I still don’t know.
It probably seemed a good idea at the time. “Let’s send out the invitation on cans. That will get their attention,” someone thought. But all I’m left thinking is what a terrible waste it all is. Of food, of postage, of effort, and of destination.
These gimmicks are seldom worth it. If a story is a good fit with the paper, I will write about it. You really don’t have to work hard to get my attention, and no clever packaging or wacky invitation is going to make the blindest difference to my opinion.
It reminds me of the many years that, without fail, the Jersey Royal marketing board used to send me a single potato to announce the new harvest, which always went straight in the bin. Send something useful or relevant, or don’t send anything at all.
Focus on the message, not the medium.