Carruther's ode to Indian cuisine. FASSON FEEDS FANCY WITH DIRECT MAIL

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Top creatives in advertising, design and printing share their secrets for triggering the creative process in a direct-mail effort to communicate the uses and benefits of pressure-sensitive materials from Fasson.

Fasson Merchant Division North America's "Food for Thought" direct-mail series targets art directors, designers, illustrators and others who specify what materials to use in advertising and/or graphic efforts.

"All of us want to think creatively, whether we're developing a breakthrough ad concept or trying to solve a squirrely printing problem. But sometimes our brains don't want to cooperate. We peer into the old `gray matter' for an inspired or innovative idea and all we find are lint balls and old ticket stubs," the mailer says.

The "Food for Thought" strategy is to encourage recipients to interact with the direct-mail piece and actually use the pressure-sensitive materials, which have an adhesive coating that allows the material to stick, said David Saifman, president of Saifman, Richards & Associates, Cleveland, the agency on the account.

The first mailer features designer/illustrator Roy Carruthers, who triggers his creativity through Indian cooking. Recipients of the direct mail piece can actually "build" a pressure-sensitive plate of the Indian meal. Stickers can be peeled off and placed on the plate. And a recipe for vegetable curry is included.

The second mailer features graphic designer Hugh Whyte, who draws inspiration from old b&w movies, including Fellini films.

"We wanted to let people know what pressure-sensitive material is used for," Mr. Saifman said.

In the past, Fasson had not communicated to the creative person specifying materials used. It had instead focused on promoting to the paper merchant and the sales force in the marketplace, Mr. Saifman said.

The first business-to-business direct-mail piece in the series was mailed in December; the second piece went out in May.

The third mailing, slated to be sent in the next few weeks, will feature Jilly Simons, president of Concrete, a Chicago design company.

About 14,000 creatives receive the mailing in addition to paper merchants for a total run of about 40,000. The "Food for Thought" direct marketing program's budget is about $200,000 to $300,000 annually, Mr. Saifman said.

The effort will continue as a series of quarterly mailings. The return and response for the first mailing was about 9%, said Kevin Yoder, market manager at Fasson, Painesville, Ohio.

The piece gets creatives to "think outside of the box. It shows how their peers stimulate their own creativity. It uses peers to get people interested to use the product in the piece-to play with the stickers and peel them and place them down in certain ways," Mr. Yoder said.

Response is strong, he said. "We are elated. [What] made me happy was that we didn't offer any premium. Respondents filled out the response card just to be on the mailing list to get future `Food for Thought' mailings," Mr. Yoder said.

Saifman Creative Director Christine Howey said it was a particular challenge to develop a piece to get the attention of art directors and designers who are inundated with promotional mailings. "We were trying, in a mailing series, to develop something the audience would enjoy receiving," Ms. Howey said.

A response card offers respondents the chance to suggest their own "Food for Thought" ideas. Those notions will be considered for future direct-mail pieces, she said.

Laura Loro coordinates Direct Marketing. Contact her at (609) 784-9090; fax, (609) 784-9119; or 904 Champlain Drive, Voorhees, N.J. 08043.

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