AARP and the Mini Day Bag!

My girlfriend recently celebrated her birthday. While she is not exactly in the demographic sought by MTV, she isn’t that old, either. Which is why we were surprised when she received an offer to join the AARP

My understanding is that the minimum age to join the American Association of Retired Persons is 50, and she is several years away from that threshold. Besides, I doubt that either of us will retire at 50, much less 60.

Creatively, the package is interesting. 

Externally, the AARP leverages a self-mailer approach with a nearly blind outer envelope; that is, the typical consumer would not note that it is from the AARP, although the typical direct mail marketer would notice the mention of ‘AARP’ in the universal postage indicia. Internally, the first things an old person potential member sees are the card and the image of the Free mini day bag. This suggests that the incentive is as much the Hero as is the value of membership.

 When the full letter is opened, a reader learns of all the benefits. The copy on the left side is assumptive, opening with, “Please keep this card until you receive your Membership Kit.” The copy on the right side calls out the various benefits of membership.

The return envelope reiterates the benefits -- not of membership, but of the mini day bag. For so much emphasis to be placed on this, it must be quite a great bag. If the bag and membership are enough reason for the reader to join the AARP, that person has to provide a stamp for the return envelope. This is likely also an indication of the target audience, because younger people such as my girlfriend are less likely to have a stamp -- they would have preferred to respond online.
I presume that a large organization such as the AARP has put in the time and effort to optimize their Control solicitation package. Perhaps this is the first in a series of solicitations. However compelling the visuals, messaging, and incentive, a Fail for List is appropriate. Maybe after mailing to my girlfriend, they will target recent college graduates?

Response form tear-off

Lesson: Target your mailings to the appropriate audience. Otherwise, you waste production money and postage while potentially damaging your reputation.

Response envelope flap

Outside of response envelope