“Dear Deceased . . . “

By | August 31, 2010

For those involved in data-driven printing, other people’s direct mail horror stories can be a great resource for refining your own workflow to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen to you.

Here are three of the latest disaster stories from members of LinkedIn’s Direct Marketing Association (Official) discussion group. You might want to put down your coffee before reading so you don’t burst out into laughter and spit it at the screen.

When I was just starting my DM career, the blank spots for personalization were inside parentheses and usually had copy that said (insert name) as a reference for production purposes. You guessed it! When the material was printed, all the personalization spots were printed exactly as the original boards, i.e. with a salutation that said: “Dear (insert name).” It was just a test, but nonetheless, we printed 50,000 pieces that had to be trashed.

One of my insurance client’s mailings to home/auto policyholders for renewals also included “Dear Deceased.”

We lasered 11,000 (of a 150,000 run) before someone noticed the bottom line of the address read “City, State, ZIP.”

These are a funny read, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny when these things actually happened. The good news for us is that we can learn from someone else’s disaster.

Has your client checked its name field and cleansed it for “deceased”? What proofing processes do you have in place to ensure that variable field markers are not printed as text? It seems impossible until it actually happens to you.

So how about you? Got any of your own disaster stories to share?

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2 thoughts on ““Dear Deceased . . . “

  1. Tom McCarthy

    We once had a box job that had to be lasered quickly for a Major Account. The material finally showed up late in the afternoon on a Friday, so we wheeled all the skids into the print room to climatize them. Upon openinig the boxes, we found the printer had pre-printed “Dear Sample A Sample” on every one of them….

  2. Just the pre-press guy

    You just gotta love “systems” without enough checks and balances. Last summer I got a statement from the vet for a doctor’s visit, euthanasia of my cat, and cremation/disposal. The bill so politely reminded me of the dates for the next required vaccinations!

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