you ever get junk mail that looks like this? (Townsquare media)
you ever get junk mail that looks like this? (Townsquare media)

It's all about hooking the customer.

As someone who has worked in radio and media since 1986 (yes, yes I am old) I have seen just about every kind of marketing attempt. And a lot of them leave me shaking my head, but some kinda p**s me off!

Should letters-flyers designed to look like official business be banned?

Going through the mailbox the other day, and weeding out numerous marketing letters and ploys, I saw this. Actually, it caught my eye.

There are many legitimate, and even money-saving offers and marketing the comes in  the mail, for example, one area grocery store puts out holiday meal specials in the mail. We make sure to watch for their rediculously great Thanksgiving and Christmas ads.

However,there are some, like this one, that are designed to mess with you. This one just happens to look suspiciously like a piece of tax-related materials, just in time for filing your returns. Hmmm...!

It's actually an ad from AARP, which ends up lining our dumpster. But the large 2023 is intentionally made and positioned to looked like a Federal tax document, and some people would be more likely to open it.  Is this illegal?

According to the direct mail website, there are strict Federal laws about false advertising when it comes to promises or offers made on the materials in a letter or flyer. However, their information is confined to what's inside the letter, flyer, the specific offers. Not the appearance.

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The Federal Trade Commission has information about what's called the CAN-SPAM Act, which governs requirements for mail and email marketing. However, looking it over, it does not appear to forbid a company from making a letter 'look' like something more important.

So what can you do?

If this kind of stuff annoys you, you can report it to the FTC.  Not sure what they would do, but if enough people complain about something, the Feds could warn or censure the business for a potentially deceptive business practice. Otherwise, these just keep filling up the landfills.


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