Flog > An Ominous Mailing

Posted by Mitch Flynn

An Ominous Mailing This came to the office earlier this week. A hand-written plain mailer with no return address and a CD with the words "Play This Now" in the same hand. Being a sucker for a good teaser mailing (we have done many here at Flynn & Friends, several with remarkable success), I threw caution under the bus and inserted it into the computer. (I reckon that using Macs insulates us from some of the more common viruses that are out there.) So, what's on the disc but the song "The End" by one of my favorite 1960s groups, The Doors, repeated no fewer than six times. Being a child of the 60s (not to mention now being in my 60s), I am no stranger to the tune. Its lyrics include:

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door...and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother...I want to... (goes on from there, you get the idea, especially if you're familiar with Greek mythology or Sigmund Freud).

But rather than appreciate the song (which is somewhat haunting and, certainly, vintage Jim Morrison), what I began to appreciate was an underlying level of paranoia. Why no return address? Why repeated six times? What's the title of the song mean? Rather than see this as a playful teaser, it started to seem somehow malevolent. I skipped through my mental Rolodex of wrongs and omissions; wondered if it had something to do with my volunteer activities; the agency; etc. etc. Troubled by it, I frisbeed it into the garbage.

Then, yesterday, came an explanatory and apologetic e-mail from a fellow member of the advertising tribe. Seems this mailing was the first in a series to promote an upcoming advertising awards show. People must have complained, because the message said "We thought it would be mysterious, intriguing and fun for those who received it – the first step of an enjoyable, entertaining experience for all of us in the advertising community. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, and some people were legitimately scared. Clearly, we got carried away with this, and we couldn’t feel worse about it. We hope you don’t place judgment on the Ad Club or the show itself based on this misunderstanding, and can forgive us for adding stress to your life during the holidays."

Apology accepted.

Lessons learned: we all have vulnerabilities (some more universal than others) and it doesn't take a whole lot to feel them. Also, that the difference between an idea that's intriguing and an idea that's alarming might be about the width of a CD turned on its side. The irony is that it happened within a peer group. No one's immune from mistakes and this is not that big a deal. But it's cautionary, and makes me appreciate our experience that much more.