Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "marketing"

What Were They Thinking?

Ray Drainville

Before I started ArDes, I worked for a local marketing firm. The people running this company fancied themselves clever marketing strategists, or “marketeers”, as they called themselves: something which always made me think of the Mickey Mouse Club. When I interviewed with them, they showed off some of their self-marketing ploys. They had a penchant for sending prospective clients miniature items: briefcases, etc. Once they sent prospective clients tiny tin buckets, with no accompanying letter, to pique their interest. A week later they sent out a letter: “You’ve got the bucket. Do you want the ideas?”

It’s clear what they were aiming for: the proverbial “bucket of ideas”. But the problem, of course, was that the bucket they supplied was tiny. This implied that they didn’t have many ideas. Or maybe it implied that their ideas were small & promised very limited success. Whatever. It wasn’t a clever or successful campaign: it only served to make them look a stupid, Mickey-Mouse organisation—of which there are sadly many in the marketing/graphic design world.

And it was very old-school, or at least it seems so now: send prospective clients some cutesy little thing to garner interest & they’ll be delighted by how clever you are. In these days of economic distress—not to mention environmental consciousness—you might think the days of spending on such wasteful endeavours would be over. You would be wrong.

A week ago, I received a package from Extensis, a company that makes (among other things) font management software. I’m a customer, albeit an unhappy one, since when I upgraded, Suitcase Fusion refused to import any of the metadata on my collection of nearly 7,000 fonts. I had to recreate all of that data. By hand. Anyway, the package contained nothing else than an adult-sized styrofoam head. You know, the kind that would sport a wig.

A few days ago, part two of their remarkable campaign kicked in. I received a wig in the shape of a mullet. In one of the more strained examples of marketing prose that I’ve encountered, the accompanying letter stated:

Extensis invites you to don your “creative mullet” to experience the perfect balance of professional level and playful font management found only in our solutions.

…[Suitcase Fusion 3 is] more than just business in the front and party in the back.

…Check out www.extensis.com/creativemullet/ to… sign up for a demo or even share your mulletude with us.

Seriously, wtf is a “creative mullet”? This is such a prime example of wankery pokery (a favourite expression of mine) that it beggars belief.

Despite all my sniping at them, I’m interested to hear that Extensis are about to move into the world of web fonts with a product called webINK to compete with the likes of TypeKit and others. I’ll reserve judgment until I hear more about it: like a lot of software companies with a history of print design, Extensis’ forays into the web haven’t been that great. Anyone remember BeyondPress? Gaaaah…

Edit: Name changed from “Argument from Design” to “ArDes”