AAPC: Congratulations on winning a Best of the Best Award for Best Use of Direct Mail! How did you go about creating the idea that you eventually submitted for the direct mail piece, “Better KCI – Build Your Own Airplane”? Did you have several ideas or did you settle on your final idea right away?
Mark: This was a 2017 election, so the workload was a little lighter than might be the case in an even-numbered year. That gave us some time to brainstorm the mail program a bit more.
What we really wanted to do was a pop-up piece of mail, like a children’s book. The idea was that when you opened the piece of mail, a plane would lift up into the air over some clouds. The problem was we couldn’t find a printer that could do it, at least not without some major production challenges. (That one’s going back in the queue. We’ll find a way!)
Then we thought about doing a luggage tag with some messaging on it, but that proved to be cost prohibitive.
That’s when we figured, why not make the mail piece itself into a foldable paper airplane? We recalled books as kids with tear-out pages that had templates for folding paper airplanes. This was basically the same thing and since this was a ballot measure for a new single-terminal at Kansas City International, it was a perfect fit.
AAPC: Can you tell us what it means to your firm to win a Best of the Best Award?
Mark: We’ve been working in politics for more than two decades now and the AAPC has always been the gold standard when it comes to awards. It’s judged by our peers and it’s widely recognized as a credible and coveted acknowledgement of our work. It’s a great validation of the hard work and time that went into this project and our other projects that were recognized.
AAPC: Can you give any advice for organizations just getting started?
Mark: Be original. Be creative. Push the boundaries. Not every piece has to be an award winner, but look for openings and opportunities to do something different. Don’t be boring. Pack your team with creative, thoughtful people.
AAPC: Were there challenges along the way you had to overcome to get this piece completed?
Mark: The biggest challenge was figuring out how to orient the copy and the art based on where it would appear once the airplane was folded. We didn’t want the campaign message to be upside down on the body of the plane.
The only other challenge was the terrible sketch of the piece we provided to our designer. He should’ve gotten hazard pay for that.
AAPC: Why do you think this piece was so successful compared to any other?
Mark: We knew we had a piece that was outside the box, and really that’s the goal at least once or twice in any mail program. Do something that makes people perceive the mail they’re getting a little differently.
With this piece, we did that by making it interactive. 99% of the time mail is consumed at an arm’s length. We wanted to create something with which a recipient could get involved, be a part of it.
AAPC: Can you share a bit about what you are working on now?
Greg: Trying to find a printer that will do a pop-up piece of mail!