Print Politics

Ron Paul NH Mailer Print Design Analysis

Too much copy is the equivalent of no copy at all.

Whether or not New Hampshire will hold its primary in December has yet to be determined, but at least one Presidential hopeful is wasting no time in getting down to some serious full color print campaigning in the Granite State.

Today, excellent prez election campaign tracker, New Hampshire Presidential Watch, posted a photo series depicting a massive 12-page pamphlet mailer that the Ron Paul camp will be sending to every registered Republican voter in the state.

On a personal level, I like the mailer. It takes great advantage of the benefits of full color printing. Each page focuses on a different topic, and combines large headlines and busy graphics with detailed copy.

If this was a perfect world, a world filled with careful and committed readers, I would say the pamphlet was ideal. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world, most people don't like to read, and on a professional level, I would never allow a client to spend money on such a copy-heavy direct mail campaign.

The designers of this piece of direct mail fell into a classic copywriting trap. Whether we're talking about a product, a service, an event, or a candidate for public office, the issue is the same: you have WAY too much to say about your topic.

I'm sure the writers working on this pamphlet could have written a book about their beloved candidate, so when they managed to break all that information down into something that just avoids filling every inch of space on this twelve-page monster, it probably felt like congratulations were in order.

However, any good copy editor knows that a personal success in the area of information-cramming does not equal a marketing success. Case in point: several pages of the Ron Paul brochure have come out looking like one of those copy-heavy magazine ads from the 70s, A.K.A. "print design from the stone age."

The problem of keeping copy concise, interesting, and readable is particularly difficult for election campaign advertisers. After all, voters do need an awesome wealth of information to make an informed decision. However, the fact is that this type of copy-heavy print advertising does not work, and all the full color printing design tricks in the world aren't going to save your campaign if you can't accept this constraining factor.

By eliminating 50 – 70% of the copy in the Ron Paul New Hampshire direct mailer, campaigners could get their point across to more voters, and, in fact, accomplish a more informative product. Because readers are turned off and overwhelmed by too many tiny little words jammed together on a page, having too much copy is the equivalent of having no copy at all.

Believing in the value of your ideas is great and necessary for running a successful campaign, but believing your lengthy, 8 pt. font copy is compelling enough to break the reading habits of the average, disinterested consumer/voter is marketing suicide. The unfortunate truth is that passionate feeling can hold you back when it comes to creating effective advertising, because you simply have too much to say. Just for example, it's a good thing this blog post isn't an ad, because odds are, unless you're one of the few voracious word eaters out there, you've already stopped reading.

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