Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disclosure. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disclosure. Sort by date Show all posts

10/12/2020

Merrell: Well-timed offer lacks expiration clarity

A recent conversation at home went like this:

Me: "Hey, honey, did you say you needed new hiking shoes?"

Wife: "Eventually. Mine are starting to wear. Why?"

Me: "We got an offer in the mail from Merrell for 25% off footwear."

Merrell One Year Discount Offer

Merrell One Year Discount Offer - 25% Off

Wife: "Well, I do like Merrell, but I don't plan to use hiking shoes in the next few weeks. Maybe I should get replacements now with the discount. When does the coupon expire?"

Me: "It doesn't say."

Wife: "Really?"

Me: "I'll look closer." (Puts on reading glasses.) "It says it expires '30 days from postmark.'"

Wife: "When is that?"

Me: "I don't know. It's not postmarked."

Wife: "Well, whatever, I don't need new hiking shoes right away and I'm pretty busy right now."

This conversation outlines why the postcard merits a Fail for Creative

On September 13, 2019, I purchased a pair of Merrell Moab 2 hiking shoes. They are perfect for that outdoor hike around the lake, through a park or in the snow. The postcard arrived October 2, 2020, just a little over a year after I started wearing my previous purchase. So, the timing and messaging around my "Merrell anniversary" are spot on. Kudos to Merrell for Timing.

The postcard included a personalized coupon code for 25% savings; however, there is no mention in the headline regarding when the coupon code expires. I found some information in the disclosure.*

Merrell One Year Discount Offer - 25% Off
Postcard disclosure text

As I wrote in prior blog posts such as this one and this one, a Call to Action should include a clearly communicated offer expiration date. This is important: The right response window encourages immediacy of customer action; one that's faulty or unclearly defined, however, only encourages inertia.

With the Merrell postcard, the coupon code's expiration date is not only buried in the disclosure, it also references expiring "30 days from postmark"; however, there is no postmark. Postcards mailed Standard Rate are not postmarked by the USPS. So, how do customers know when the coupon code expires? They don't.

There are several ways to care for expiration date communication without jeopardizing the integrity of the message, diluting Merrell's branding or adding production costs. Here is one: Include an offer expiration date in the address section of the postcard. 

Merrell postcard mock-up, modified to add expiration date
Mock-up. I added the expiration date in the address panel

In the above mock-up, the coupon code expiration date is clearly communicated. The date is specific and reasonably prominent. The messaging complements the headline and supports immediate action. It can be inkjet- or laser-personalized using the same variable data method as the producing the coupon code and customer name and address. Depending on the postcard's production method, it could appear in spot color without incremental print expenses.

If Merrell adapts this approach, the only incremental edit would be to rephrase the disclosure to reference the expiration date in the address panel.

Lessons:

  1. Your call to action should include a clearly communicated, definitive offer expiration date.
  2. Postcards mailed Standard Rate are not postmarked.


* Many people mistakenly refer to small print associated with marketing communications as a disclaimer, when in fact it is a disclosure. According to dictionary.com, a ‘disclaimer’ is “the act of disclaiming; the renouncing, repudiating, or denying of a claim; disavowal” while a ‘disclosure’ is “the act or an instance of disclosing; exposure; revelation.” ‘Disclose’ is defined as “to make known; reveal or uncover” From a Marketing standpoint, a disclaimer is an admission that the headline is false – otherwise why renounce it? However, a disclosure provides secondary but relevant facts of an offer. So the only reason an offer or marketing communication would require a disclaimer is if it was misleading from the onset.



2/16/2010

Allow customers to read the fine print

Fail: Creative   

This fold-out self mailer might be listed on mouseprint for it’s Fail.


The businesses, EAS, appears to have spent a bit extra on printing to include a solid silver color to break though mail clutter. The offer of insulating your home for only $100 is so compelling that it borders on disbelief.  The credibility of the headline is further strained by the reference to “No Money Down / 12 Months No Payment / No Interest Financing".  Hmm, why would those claims be necessary for only $100 worth of servce?  Let’s check out the fine print to find out … What?  You can’t read it?  Well, maybe you can if you have a magnifying glass or zoom in on a scanned image. But the average consumer will not notice and can not read that.

This disclosure* text is in the bottom right corner of the mailer, in white print over a light blue background. The color contrast is inadequate and font appears to be 8 point Arial Narrow, rendering it unreadable.  With a Fail like this, the direct mail solicitation borders on being misleading.  Nearly all offers these days will have some sort of disclosure, but the point of having them is for them to be able to be read.

The piece could also deserve a Fail for creative being heavy on snowflakes while targeting homeowners in south Texas.  It snows here in Houston about once every 3 years.  We care about insulating from heat much more than cool air, even in February.  (As I write this, it is 65 degrees and sunny.)

Learning: Ensure that your disclosure is readable by including the text at a reasonable font size and with adequate color contrast.








* Many people mistakenly refer to small print associated with marketing communications as a disclaimer, when in fact it is a disclosure. According to dictionary.com, a ‘disclaimer’ is “the act of disclaiming; the renouncing, repudiating, or denying of a claim; disavowal” while a ‘disclosure’ is “the act or an instance of disclosing; exposure; revelation.” ‘Disclose’ is defined as “to make known; reveal or uncover” From a Marketing standpoint, a disclaimer is an admission that the headline is false – otherwise why renounce it? However, a disclosure provides secondary but relevant facts of an offer. So the only reason an offer or marketing communication would require a disclaimer is if it was misleading from the onset.


5/17/2019

Hertz: App Offer "Terms Apply" - What Are They?

Hertz has had a challenging time with their customer app. In fact, execution of their app redesign was so bad that, only a few weeks ago, Hertz sued their marketing partner Accenture (pdf here). So, when Hertz finally had a newly redesigned app ready for prime time, it made sense to promote it.

When promoting engagement of an app, offering an incentive for use is an effective tool. This week, Hertz is offering customers a free car rental day. I recently received the below email as a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards member.

Terms Apply


Terms Apply
Hertz new app promotional email with message that "Terms Apply"

According to the email, I can get a free rental day when I use the app. The headline message has an asterisk—or, in this case, a paragraph symbol (¶)—indicating there is a Disclosure on the page regarding the offer. Based on the corresponding paragraph symbol, the Disclosure reads simply, “¶ Offer ends 06/30/19. Taxes and fees excluded. Terms apply.”  

OK, so what are the terms?

I thought the landing page might perhaps have more information; however, it includes only the same Disclosure that “Terms Apply.”

Terms Apply
Landing page. Disclosure circled.

I thought there might be at least a link here to the terms that apply, but there is not. We know from the email that the offer is valid on rentals of 5 days or more and expires on June 30, 2019. The landing page includes the additional Disclosure that the offer is available only in the United States and Canada, but what else? Is it valid in Hawaii? At airport pick-ups? For Hertz Local Edition? Can I combine it with a free upgrade offer? Do AAA discounts or my CDP number combine with this offer? Do I need to reserve at least 7 days in advance?

These are details, but are relevant details that may or may not drive decision. By not sharing them and merely stating, “Terms apply”, this email and related web page merit a Fail for Creative.

I messaged Hertz via Facebook yesterday and asked what terms apply to this offer. They didn’t know. At their request, I shared the above email and landing page. They responded that they will research this. I received some follow-up questions, so they are still researching.

Update 5/17/19: Hertz communicated to me via Twitter:
Hello Marc. When on the app, you will stay on the home page, under the YouTube video, you will click on the promotion that states " App Exclusive", when you click that you will see at the top "Get a free day when you rent for five" and scroll up. It states the offer summary and the Terms and Conditions. If you are still having trouble, please reach back out for further assistance. We will gladly walk you through the steps. Thank you. -DR
This reinforces my point -- that terms are not upfront and hard to find. There is no reason both the email and landing page could have disclosed at least "Please review the offer in our new app for additional terms that apply."

Lesson:
When you present an offer, share the terms of the offer upfront. At the very least, know what they are.

11/09/2018

Shake Shack: Offer with Bumble & "Deets"


This email from Shake Shack merits several Fails for Offer.


The offer stated in the body copy reads, “…grab a burger with your new connection + score the second burger on us.” That suggests that all I need to do to get a free burger is purchase one burger. However, the disclosure* below the offer reads that there is a minimum purchase of $10 using the app, specifically: “Minimum Shack App order of $10 for offer to apply.Where I live, that’s more than a burger. At my local Shake Shack in high-priced New York City, a Shack Burger costs $5.59, and a simple hamburger costs $4.89. So it would take a purchase of a Shack Burger, fries, and a soda ($11.13) for a customer to take advantage of the offer.

The steps involved in getting that second burger are complex – another Fail for Offer. A customer has to download an app called Bumble, swipe through something, find a profile that contains a promo code and “deets,” then redeem the offer using the promo code in the Shack App at a participating Shake Shack. That’s a lot of steps just to get a free burger. It’s not clear to me if a customer can get the free burger at the same time as purchasing a burger. If not, that’s a third Fail for Offer for not disclosing that the free burger is available only on a return visit.

There is a fourth Fail for Offer – offering only five days for a customer to take advantage of the offer.  So during the work week, a customer has to download an app, find a connection on the app, and arrange to go together to Shake Shack to follow the several vague steps in the email to obtain value.  

Bumble appears to be a dating app, but one wouldn’t know from the email from Shake Shack. It does not explain what the app is, nor does the landing page from the email link. It appears to me that the rationale for the offer is to encourage a friendly non-Tinder date by using the app to get a burger. That’s nice – but what are “deets” in this context? Sure, “deets” is often slang for “details”, but there is other slang used in the email.  Is “deets” in this context supposed to be a new short-hand combination of “dating” and “meeting”? I can’t find any mention of the term on Bumble’s website. According to Wikipedia, DEET is a type of toxin used to repel bugs. I certainly wouldn’t want any DEET on my Shack Burger! A cursory search in Urban Dictionary and the Online Slang Dictionary suggest it could refer to “details,” “gossip,” “stolen credit cards,” a racial derogatory term or to NSFW sexual acts best not described in an email from a family-friendly burger chain. The type of customer Bumble may want to target -- presumably young, urban, single professionals -- might know what “deets” means.  However, Shake Shack is sending these emails to a much wider group of customers -- presumably everyone with the app who has not yet opted-out from receiving emails -- which is why this use of slang might merit a Fail for Creative.  

Lessons:
  1. Explain your offer clearly in the body of an email. Don’t rely on a Disclosure to present the terms of an offer.
  2. Keep the process of redeeming an offer easy. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops for small rewards.
  3. Give your customers an adequate window to take advantage of your offer.
  4. If you don’t know your audience, be judicious in the use of slang.


* Many people mistakenly refer to the small print associated with marketing communications as a disclaimer when, in fact, it is a disclosure. According to dictionary.com, a “disclaimer is “the act of disclaiming; the renouncing, repudiating, or denying of a claim; disavowal” while a “disclosure is “the act or an instance of disclosing; exposure; revelation.” “Disclose is defined as “to make known; reveal or uncover.” From a marketing standpoint, a disclaimer is an admission that the headline is false – otherwise, why renounce it? However, a disclosure provides secondary but relevant facts of an offer. So the only reason an offer or marketing communication would require a disclaimer is if it were misleading from the onset.

11/17/2014

Viridian Energy: Unreal Savings



"SAVE MORE THAN $1,200" but not for sure
This article from retailenergyx.com discusses a direct mail offer from Viridian Energy. It is the type of marketing solicitation that I consider a Fail for Creative for being misleading.  

A bit of context: National Grid is a utility in parts of New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As the utility, they maintain the power lines and are the basic supplier provider for electricity. As described on their site, National Grid adjusts their prices every six months in Massachusetts using a regulated formula. As this chart shows, in the coming six months, their supply price will increase by 97% to reflect current and anticipated supply costs, and that price will last for six months. After that, it could decrease back to the historical averages, or not. The price for the next six months will be over 16¢/kWh, while the last time the price was above 12¢/kWh was in 2009.





Are these the questions you would ask?

The direct mail offer from Viridian Energy touts the National Grid rate increase to 16.18¢/kWh as a reason to switch to their rate of 11.99¢/kWh guaranteed for 36 months. This is where the misrepresentation starts. Headline-level copy in the sidebar touts “SAVE MORE THAN $1,200 OVER 3 YEARS!”* That type of claim assumes that the National Grid Basic Service Charge will not change during the 3-year comparison period – but it will change. The Basic Service Charge changes every six months. So the touted $1,200 savings may be nearly zero.

Yes, Viridian explains this a bit in their disclaimer*, and they even throw in the mutual fund prospectus favorite line “Past performance does not necessarily predict future results.” But they hide this in the disclaimer, suggesting it was a misleading claim. Most consumers will scan the claims in the Johnson Box, headlines, and sidebars to determine if they are interested. They will read the $1,200 savings message, not the disclaimer that notes lack of validity.

There are other relevant facts to this offer missing from the headline and body of the letter:
  • The so-called “clean electricity” is not completely clean. Their disclosure explains that it has 50% renewable energy in addition to state requirements. Nice, but that could still mean a sizable percentage of fossil fuel generation.
  • If a customer signs up for this 36-month offer and later decides to cancel – perhaps because the National Grid Basic Service Charge returns to normal rates in six months – there is a $50 early termination fee. That is not disclosed anywhere in the letter. Perhaps this might be excusable if the call to action were to get more information, but the call to action is to “make the smart choice,” i.e., sign up for the offer. At the very least, it could have been included in a disclosure.
Direct mail solicitations like these give the industry a bad name.

Lesson: Disclose the specifics of your offer and relevant comparisons in a clear, concise, communicative manner. If you have to use a disclaimer to explain why your claim is not fully valid, consider your moral values.

* Many people mistakenly refer to the small print associated with marketing communications as a disclaimer, when, in fact, much of it is a disclosure. According to dictionary.com, a ‘disclaimer’ is “the act of disclaiming; the renouncing, repudiating, or denying of a claim; disavowal,” while a ‘disclosure’ is “the act or an instance of disclosing; exposure; revelation.” ‘Disclose’ is defined as “to make known; reveal or uncover.” From a marketing standpoint, a disclaimer is an admission that the headline is false – otherwise, why renounce it? However, a disclosure provides secondary but relevant facts of an offer. So the only reason an offer or marketing communication would require a disclaimer is if it was misleading from the onset.