Handmade Promotional Mailer
Back in 2013 we were sitting in Elements coffee shop throwing around ideas for a handmade promotional mailer that we could send out to perspective advertising agencies. It had to be attention grabbing as it needed to cut through the sea of promotional pieces that land on the desk of advertising’s most creative people. The idea of photographing prisoners and attaching the prints to a clipboard was one of the ideas that came up. We knew that if done right, we thought it could spark that interest we were looking for. With this loose concept in hand, the REFLECT project was born.
Of course it was one year ago when the idea was conceived, and since then, the REFLECT project has developed into much more then we ever anticipated. The end goal of the project shifted from a marketing piece to a gallery showing that garnered local, national, and even worldwide attention. The response has been amazing and the REFLECT project continues to visit galleries around the state while still generating a lot of interest.
Fast forward to August 2014 and we are just now taking the REFLECT project and turning it into the promotional marketing piece that we had originally conceived. How were we going to take these portraits and present them in way that stayed true to the concept? Well, we started off building a few prototypes to see what we could come up with. Below is the process we went through while constructing the 2014 promotional mailer.
We decided to print six of the most intriguing portraits from the REFLECT project. They had to be engaging and thought provoking enough so that the person viewing them would want to reach out and learn more.
The images were printed four up on 13×19 archival matte paper with the back side detailing the corresponding information that went along with each prisoner. We decided to do all of our printing in-house because we could proof our images. This gave us complete control over quality with the added ability to make last-minute changes without going back to a print house. The detail that comes from the Epson R2400 is quite amazing and is why we use this same process to print our own portfolio.
We invested in a 12×24 inch RotaTrim so we could cut all the elements in-house, if you’ve never used one of these, they work fantastic. Having the prints cut to exactly the same size was crucial because we wanted them to line up precisely when stacked together on the clipboard.
Six to a clipboard times 53 clipboards = 318 prints (double sided).
We stamped our logo on the bottom right of the clipboard just below the prints.
Prints assembled and ready for the next step.
We decided to use Kraft self-seal mailers rather than boxing them up. The presentation of a box pales in comparison to the feel and quality of these durable recycled mailers; a box felt too much like anything else you might receive in the mail. We couldn’t just use a white return address label on the front, so we had a custom stamp made.
The images needed to have some context for those who had not yet interacted with the REFLECT project. We experimented with a few different options for conveying this information before deciding on wrapping a 2×11.5 inch vellum band around the whole clipboard. This would serve two purposes, as it would give the recipient an explanation of the project before viewing the prints and it would also ensure the prints stayed fastened to the clipboard should they become dislodged during shipping. Initially we experimented with using thin paper stock to wrap the images but it didn’t present well and hid the image we were trying to show. After printing a few test prints on vellum, we decided the transparency gave a sense of depth when overlaid across the prints and allowed the viewer to see the print in its entirety.
Five up on 11×17 and cut down to a finished size of 2×11.5
Off to the RotaTrim.
Labels couldn’t be cookie cutter labels, there had to be some thought that went into the presentation of the package. We didn’t want to take any shortcuts so we designed our own labels and cut them out of a sheet of 8.5×11 Avery sticker paper.
Of course Rob Haggart at aphotoeditor was getting one.
Wrapping the bands around the clipboard took a little time to complete because we wanted the band to be tight enough to help hold the prints in place. We secured them in the back with a piece of scotch tape but after looking at how they were held together it appeared unfinished and somewhat of an after thought. We also knew there had to be an insert that explained who we were as well as a way to personalize the project. Initially we were going to place the insert behind the stack so the recipient would see it when they removed the prints. We decided on attaching the card where the band came together so it would be read before the viewer removed the band.
We also applied custom printed tape to the back of each clipboard. The info card was printed on the same Matte paper as the photos.
And signed 53 times.
All of the clipboards completed and ready for packing.
We chose self seal envelopes because the finish was much cleaner than taping them shut. They also had a pull tab that made it easier for the recipient to open.
Ready for the Post Office.
And they’re off……
The process of putting the clipboards together took a lot of trial and error. There were many revisions before we had a finished product we were happy with. By far the most time consuming and challenging part of the project was researching and building a mailing list of creatives that we were interested in working with. Thank you for looking! Be sure to stay updated as we are currently working on the next installment of the REFLECT project.
List of ingredients:
- Moab Lasal 13×19 DS Photo Matte
- Univeral Memo 6×9 Clipboard
- White 11×17 Vellum Paper 29#
- Avery 8.5×11 Shipping Labels
- Uline Self-Seal 9×11.5 Stay Flats
- Custom Made Stamp From VistaPrint
- Double Sided Tape
- Custom Tape with our Logo
- Lots of Time…..
Questions, comments? Let us know your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org