Yahoo mails barbed fish hooks to potential customers in DM push

Yahoo fish hooksYahoo Search Marketing has embarked on a direct mail initiative which has raised health and safety questions.

The company posted out letters containing three fish hooks to promote its “Big Bang” initiative offering companies free search campaigns. Although the hooks are sharp and barbed, the company insists that they were safely packaged.  

The mailout – in the name of Willie Pang, the MD of Yahoo! Search Marketing in Australia – is a message themed around fishing and helping businesses cast their net wider.

One person who received the DM piece told Mumbrella:

“They are full, shiny and sharp fishing hooks with no little plastic guard or anything. They are bloody sharp! With barbs!”

Australia Post’s guide to Dangerous & Prohibited Goods & Packaging, says: “Australia Post prohibits in all services sharp-edged and pointed articles unless packed as prescribed.” This rules states:

“The packaging for sharp-edged or pointed items must comprise:

  • Primary wrapping with the sharp edges or points wrapped in or protected by cork, polyurethane foam or similar material
  • An outer rigid container of metal, wood, strong plastic or other rigid material.”

A spokesman for Australia Post told Mumbrella that it had no issue with delivering the items. She said: “From a delivery perspective the mail piece has been secured and packaged appropriately to be processed through the mail network.”

Pang told Mumbrella in an email that Yahoo had received Australia Post’s approval prior to the mailing. He said: “Specific measures and precautions were taken to ensure these packs were safe to send and to be handled by recipients of the direct mail, including glue caps on the tips of the hooks to cover any sharp edges, the hooks being secured in place on the card with tape and a thick sheet covering the back of the direct mail piece to ensure the hooks would not move or poke through.”

He added: “The strategy behind this direct mail piece was to visually show how Yahoo! Search Marketing allows advertisers to ‘catch’ potential customers.” He said that the picture above was taken after “the hooks that were safely secured have been torn out with force”.

The initiative is already drawing comment from marketing bloggers who received the mailout. The Just Another PR Blog said:

“My receptionist opened the letter and was surprised to find three shiny and sharp fishing hooks waiting for her. They were glued to the DL.. but seriously Yahoo. You sent out fucking fishing hooks to people as a marketing effort? Without guards or any kind of safety function? Have you gone mad?

“Let alone the OH&S issues, this DM idea really is stupid. I haven’t even read the letter which is obviously urging me to increase my website’s reach by undertaking SEO with Yahoo. And I won’t read it. I now have a funny little niggle in my stomach about Yahoo. Really if this is how they want to catch new customers, I’m not sure I trust them and their brand to look after my brand.”

It is unclear whether a DM agency was involved in the project – or how many letters have been sent out. However, Mumbrella understands that most of Yahoo’s business DM efforts are managed internally.

Mumbrella also understands that in a previous effort about six years ago, Yahoo gave away pocket knives in a trade marketing push.


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