Nine 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:
- Twenty-dollar bill. Sealed in clear plastic to tempt the greedy. Delivered untouched in 4 days.
- Pair of expensive tennis shoes. Unwrapped. Simply strapped together with duct tape. Delivered in 7 days with laces neatly and tightly knotted.
- Rose. No box. No wrapping. Just a rose with postage and address card tied to the stem. Beat up but delivered in 3 days with the rosebud intact.
- 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.
- Fresh green coconut. No wrapping. Just addressed, stamped, and dropped in the mail from Hawaii. Delivered in 10 days.
- Box of sand. Mailed in transparent plastic box. Opened, inspected, taped shut, and delivered in 7 days.
- Brick. Wrapped in plain brown paper. Pulverized by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, but all pieces delivered in a plastic bag in 16 days.
- Large wheel of rancid cheese. Mailed in a cardboard box through which the cheese oozed and emitted a truly noxious odor. Box placed in plastic bag and delivered in 8 days.
Want to see what else was mailed and what happened? Read Postal Experiments for yourself and find out.