ForeThought: The medium’s the message, largely
June 1, 2012 | Galynn Nordstrom
Several weeks ago, a few zip codes in Mineapolis were selected to participate in “Operation Medicine Delivery,” to receive a sealed, empty medicine bottle in the mail. The purpose, according to the flyer attached to the bottle, was to see how fast postal workers could deliver medicine to homes in an emergency. Forty teams delivered simulated medications to more than 35,000 households in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area in less than 12 hours. In one area, 76 addresses were missed because high water from heavy rains left a neighborhood inaccessible by vehicle, according to initial field reports. “If this was a real emergency we would message those folks and tell them they should go to a medical distribution center [later] instead,” said USPS spokesman Pete Nowacki.
I live in one of the designated zip codes (I don’t know why my area was chosen, and decided not to ask), so I checked my mailbox that Sunday—and sure enough, there was a small, white plastic bottle in my mailbox, with a safety cap, a foil seal over the contents (none), and a message that said: “This is only a test!”
This is one instance in which delivery definitely trumps content. If your marketing plan is fully functional, you’ll have a variety of methods through which to dispense your message, and choose the one that best suits the message, the audience, the situation and the product you’re promoting. Our underutilized mail boxes could be the perfect vehicle for a promotion with impact—especially if you email people to notify them that it’s coming.
The verisimilitude of receiving an actual medicine bottle in my mailbox made the message virtually impossible to overlook. There was another major message in it for me, however, when I looked at the side of the bottle and saw this messsage: “RECYCLE. This bottle was empty when delivered. Please recycle the bottle.” Part of the reason for this could be to avert the inevitable “why are you wasting valuable resources on this exercise” complaints (there are already websites discussing it as part of a government plot), but still—how far we’ve come from that first Earth Day in 1970, and the subsequent battles over ecology versus economy.
Last week, a co-worker asked me if I could give her a list of articles we’d published in the Review about recycling, to help a prospective member. I told her that it would be difficult to find an issue of this magazine that didn’t cover the “reduce, reuse, recycle” aspects of our industry, and advised her to do a search on this website to find what she needed. Just this week, I posted an article about Unifi’s REPREVE® recycled fibers being used in three 2013 Ford vehicles, and the company’s “REPREVE Gives Back” program, which donates a portion of sales to nonprofit environmental organizations. Environmental sustainability isn’t just good business, it’s good promotion. And it’s about time.
As for my “This is only a test!” bottle, I admit I didn’t recycle it—but I am reusing it for my blood pressure medication. As pill bottles go, it’s outstanding.