Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brought To You By ...

The other day, I was driving back from a client meeting when I had to stop at a red light. In the lane next to me was a post office truck. Not just any truck, but a brand new Spider-Man one. 

Along with the familiar red, white and blue graphics, there was an enormous picture of the infamous webslinger himself ready to deliver a Priority Mail envelope (and fight crime too, we have to assume). 

I've made a living in the direct mail business for nearly three decades. Not quite since the time of the pony express; it just feels like it. I have good friends at the USPS. I've spoken at their conferences. They advise on the creative packages I do for my clients (yes, that's right, direct mail can be creative). Many (many, many) years ago, I actually collected stamps.

But ... I'm confused. 

Is Spidey delivering the mail now? What happened to all those nice letter carriers? Y'know ...

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

I get it. Mailmen and women are super heroes. Indeed, living in New England, there are definitely winter days when I don't envy them their jobs. But, I was still surprised to see Spider-Man on a mail truck.

'Turns out, it's all a promotion for the new movie The AMAZING Spider-Man 2.

My teenage daughter is growing up in a world that is inundated with marketing messages. Promotions and sponsorships are everywhere. From the tallest buildings to the backs of public restroom stall doors. Everything you do, see, buy, eat, drink and breathe is "brought to you by" somebody. (Okay, maybe not the "breathe" part — not yet.)

Remember when stadiums, theatres and performance halls were named after famous people, mythical characters or simply the city they were in? Not so much anymore. My daughter's going to a concert soon and I asked where it was going to be.

"Blue Hills Bank Pavilion," she said.

Say what?

"I think it was Bank of America Pavilion back in your days." Actually, it was Harbor Lights, a lovely outdoor arena on the shore of Boston Harbor. The name meant something. It described the experience; it added to the allure. Naming it after a bank makes no sense — except that it reminds me of how expensive concert tickets have become. Money, not music. That's okay, I guess. The only connection the venue has with either eponymous bank is a financial one.

Suddenly everything is underwritten by some company or product. Still Spider-Man (not just any old Spider-Man, mind you, but The AMAZING Spider-Man 2) doesn't feel quite kosher. I mean, isn't the USPS a federal government agency? Shouldn't that mean they stay above the commercial fray?

What's next anyway? The Department of Transportation, brought to you by Hyundai? The CIA, brought to you by 24: Live Another Day? The Food & Drug Administration, brought to you by the makers of Viagra?

Then again, if everyone else is doing it, maybe I should too. In that spirit, sponsorships of Lovin' the Alien are now available. I am particularly interested in inquiries from the following:

Vineyards and Fine Wine Distributors
Gourmet Chocolate Companies
Designer Handbags and Luxury Leather Goods
Personal Electronics
Spa Getaways


Jimmy Choo.

Feel free to pay for your sponsorships in trade. Your support will be gratefully acknowledged.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at 

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