Soup, sand, and rancid cheese: The craziest direct mail test in history

crazy direct mail testingNine years ago, I discovered an article at Improbable Research about a direct mail test that was so bizarre, I had to share it with others. So, with the permission of the author, I posted it to my website.

It turned out to be a popular article, amusing and amazing people all over the country.

Why all the fuss? Why would so many people outside the direct marketing industry want to read an article on direct mail testing?

Because it chronicles the most audacious direct mail test in history. It started as a prank, but developed into a revealing look at how good the USPS really can be at delivering mail.

The idea was simple: mail a bunch of silly, outrageous objects and see what gets delivered and what doesn’t. What kind of objects? One was a can of Progresso Classics Split Pea Soup with an address label on the side. That one didn’t make it.

But here are some other crazy items that did:

Want to see what else was mailed and what happened? Read Postal Experiments for yourself and find out.

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9 Responses to “Soup, sand, and rancid cheese: The craziest direct mail test in history”

  1. The Direct Marketing Voice Links 9-1-2009 | The Direct Marketing Voice on September 1st, 2009 2:47 pm

    [...] Soup, sand, and rancid cheese: The craziest direct mail test in history [...]

  2. The Direct Marketing Voice Links 9-2-2009 | The Direct Marketing Voice on September 2nd, 2009 11:08 am

    [...] Craziest direct mail test in history [...]

  3. Ted Grigg on September 2nd, 2009 3:27 pm

    Nice read Dean.

    This story rekindles my confidence in an old institution that we still depend upon every day. The USPS.

  4. Sheldon (Marketing Consultant, Tauranga) on September 3rd, 2009 1:15 am

    haha, such fun!

  5. Sheldon (Marketing Consultant, Tauranga) on September 3rd, 2009 1:20 am

    You missed this one in your list of examples:

    “Never-opened small bottle of spring water.
    We observed the street corner box surreptitiously the following day upon mail collection. After puzzling briefly over this item, the postal carrier removed the mailing label and drank the contents of the bottle over the course of a few blocks as he worked his route.”

  6. Amy Kehoe on September 13th, 2009 10:19 pm

    Screaming toy. A monkey-in-the-box addressed in big letters to LITTLE JOHNNIE. Upon shaking, the toy shouted, “Let me out of here! Help! Let me out of here!” Delivered in 6 days.

    Ha! I saw that toy for sale about ten years ago. My toddler at the time and I laughed and laughed. It was brilliant. Our kind of humor.

  7. Kirkwood Direct on November 11th, 2009 2:04 am

    Really it is a funny story.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Stacy Ranta on July 9th, 2010 11:08 pm

    Speaking of crazy mail…

    I remember reading in a book on Mad Magazine, that a fan letter from Europe was delivered all the way to their office with no address. The only piece of information on the envelope was a taped on picture of Alfred E. Neuman.

  9. Direct Mail Services on July 22nd, 2011 3:01 pm

    That is some crazy stuff that actually got delivered. I’m not surprised about the brick wrapped in brown paper being demolished by the DEA, they probably thought it was a brick of drugs.

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