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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Envelopes that take center stage
Deborah Block and Paul Karps

April, 2010

Take a quick look through any pile of direct mail packages and certain envelopes will definitely stand out. Of course, that doesn’t mean these appeals will perform any better than, say, those in a “plain” #10 with only a name and address and no teaser. Let alone a “blind” outer with no text whatsoever.

In fact, the opposite may be the case. Yet giving your envelope some added pizzazz could make it stand out in the perpetually crowded mailbox.

We went through our own stockpile of packages and grabbed a sampling of the more interesting—albeit potentially more costly—envelope concepts. Though just to reiterate, we weren’t looking for clever teasers. We were focusing, instead, on the format of the envelope itself.

Anyway, perhaps one of these will help get your own creative juices flowing:

The wrap-around

It’s hard not to be impressed by Greenpeace’s 6 x 10,” four-color “wrap-around” outer, with polar bears gracing one side. But it gets even better: Open it up flat and prepare to be wowed by the gorgeous 10 x 15” photo—aka a “full-size poster”—of a polar bear family, seemingly posing for the camera as lovingly as any human family.



The reverse-flap window

Stare right into the eyes of a cold and shivering young girl in a 6 x 9-1/2” reverse-flap outer from World Vision. The envelope front, showing a partial picture of a six-year-old girl, reads, “‘I shiver and my teeth chatter. . .I am scared that my hands might fall off.’” Then, on the back, one of two teasers says, “Snow and ice encase her cold, dark home.” This is complemented by a background which simulates just that. The second teaser warns, “Without a coat, this is her prison for months at a time.” And sure enough, the sad eyes of the same little girl show through a 3-1/2 x 1-3/4” window.


The envelope within an envelope

It just looks more official somehow. That’s why we like this petition package from The Wilderness Society that drops a Kraft #10 outer into a #11 white outer. Showing through the glassine window is a faux label (which looks pretty real, since you can’t actually feel it) with the group’s name and logo. It also has an official-looking teaser telling recipients that petitions to Congress and the U.S. Forest Service are enclosed.

Inter-department delivery

Do companies actually send these things around the office any more? (We wouldn’t know, since we work at home!). But Sacred Heart Southern Missions came up with a clever idea all the same. Fr. Jack was sent an “URGENT” memo by the Finance Department, which (as you can see from the envelope back) he’s forwarding on to “Our Faithful Friends.” And this time, it’s not just marked “URGENT”. . .but “URGENT*URGENT*URGENT*URGENT.” (Sounds important!)

Adding involvement

Just how hard do you want to work to open an envelope? The folks at Feeding America apparently wanted those who got this Thanksgiving MEAL TICKET package to get a little more involved in the process. A #10 outer was inserted into a 6 x 11” piece of cardstock, that was, in turn, encased by glassine on three sides. A bright red sticker declares “OPEN NOW!” The card allows for additional copy above and below the envelope. It’s almost like adding both a Johnson Box and a P.S. to the outer–serving to motivate recipients so that yes, they would “open now!”

To see all these packages in their entirety, click here.

Copywriters Deborah Block and Paul Karps are partners in BK Kreative, 1010 Varsity Court, Mountain View CA 94040, phone (650) 962-9562, email




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