Fighting is For Boys, Friendship is For Girls…
..and Other Lessons from Hillary Clinton’s Direct Mail Campaign
It began with the envelopes. They arrived in our mailbox on the same day a few weeks ago. One was for me (hereafter referred to as “Woman.”) The other was addressed to my husband (hereafter referred as “Man.”) Both envelopes were from Hillary Rodham Clinton asking us to participate in her campaign for President of the United States of America. The Asks, however, could not be more different, nor could the overall presentation. No detail is left to chance — from typefaces to images, paper choices to the very language itself — and all seem taken straight out of a 1950’s ad agency playbook on how best to communicate via gender stereotypes. This Direct Mail campaign is a Direct Fail. To find out why I’m Not With Her, (at least until I have no other choice,) read on:
- The Envelopes
The Woman Envelope is alluringly oversized, a creamy hue like an invitation to a wedding or other formal event. The return address is “Official Campaign Headquarters” in an engraved typeface: Women Like Fancy Parties! Underneath is Clinton’s full signature in an autograph-style typeface. Women Like Personal Touches! It features the phrase “[Insert Name] we are in this together…” over the Woman’s address, speaking to our better, cooperative feminine nature. Don’t forget the stamp: The Woman Envelope stamp features a field of stars, you know, cooperating together.
The Man Envelope is a stark opposite of the Woman Envelope. It has a no-nonsense format; a standard American business-sized affair in workaday white. Its return address is simply Clinton’s name in a familiar, serif typeface. The tagline is distinctly macho: “[Insert Name], we’ve got a fight on our hands…” Note the “bloody” stripes over half the stamp. No more fooling around, Man.
The Man Envelope features additional information on the reverse. Men Like Additional Information. Unlike the Woman Envelope which is simply shows the Hillary Victory Fund mailing address, the Man Envelope includes many bells & whistles. A modern logo, in two-color ink suggests corporate efficiency, because Men Like Business. There is an additional call to action — “My plan to help America’s families is enclosed — but it won’t get done without you!” — because Men Take Action. There is even a QR code and URL because Men Love Technology.
2. The Letters
The Woman Letter is only two pages long. The opener, though, is long on “feelings” because Women Love Feelings: It references the “worries, concerns, fears, and hopes” of Americans, and Clinton assures us she has feelings too. She is “honored” and “heartbroken” at turns.
The Woman Letter quickly launches into personal stories about Americans — a librarian, a waitress, and families of victims of gun violence and environmental racism — because Women Are Personal.
The first emphasis line, underlined, notes that “…we will only succeed if we work together.” Women Love Togetherness.
Clinton then conjures a few more bad-but-relatable scenarios — sick kids, impoverished parents — and a few more feelings — angry, defeated, and betrayed — to drive home the need for Togetherness.
Only then do women find out what this campaign is: It is a fight. This is only mentioned once. But don’t be scared, because if Clinton wins, women won’t be alone. Women Hate Loneliness. And it’s a two-way road, because Clinton tells us “I cannot do it alone.”
Again, women are reminded that, “We have to bring people together to find ways forward…” Still yet, at the letter’s end, (because Women Are Slow on the Uptake!) we are encouraged: “Let’s do this together.”
Somewhere towards the finale there is paragraph on Clinton’s actual policy achievement and experience. Five quick examples, because Women Hate Substance.
The P.S. offers one more hit of Togetherness, and request that women share the Plans for the Future one-pager with our friends, because Women Love Sharing.
Finally, the salutation is “Thank you,” because Women Appreciate Gratitude.
In case women didn’t get the Togetherness concept in the body of the letter, it is repeated in bold type at the top of the friend-sharable platform primer page. Remember, Women Can Be Dense.
In stark contrast, the Man Letter is a four-page opus, because Men Have Stamina. It is heavy on strong words: The word “fight” appears over five times because Men Like Fighting. There are many other firm words and phrases to appeal to the Fighting Man: “smear” “stark choices” “rip away our progress” “drag us backward” “attack” “surrender” “resist the forces” “destroy the barriers,” etc. Men Are Tough; they can handle this language.
Unlike the Woman Letter, the Man Letter references The Enemy multiple times. The Enemy includes a primary opponent with fundraising savvy and Republicans with political savvy. Men Want to Know the Enemy. There is a detailed discussion of the Republican Enemy’s tactics and analysis of how a Clinton win will affect Congressional and State-level politics as well. Men Like Details. Men Can Handle the Big Picture so much so that putting the platform primer right in the body of the letter won’t overwhelm them.
The donation Clinton requests isn’t really a donation. It is “an investment.” Men Are Good With Money. Along these same lines, there are many references to work, from the things Clinton has “worked toward” to how she can “get the job done.” Men Know From Work.
Men Also Want to Feel Important. Clinton’s letter acknowleges this by giving Men their very own place (on the reply/donation card) to “let me know what’s on your mind,” assuring them, “You’re a big part of [the] conversation…”
Because Men Like a Damsel in Need of Help, Clinton comes right out and asks for it: “So right now I need your help…” She also uses the closer, “Warmest Regards,” because Men Like Warm Women.
3. Bonus Material
The Woman Letter comes with a full-color postcard of Clinton wearing pink. Women Like Pink. She is shown in profile, gazing at an unseen audience, or perhaps into the pleasantly vague distance. Women Don’t Like to Be Confronted Directly.
On the back, there is a “handwritten” note from Clinton asking women for “your friendship and support!” Women Like a Personal Touch. Women Are Loyal to Their Friends.
The Man Letter contains no such bonus material. That would be unprofessional. Men Are Not Unprofessional.
4. The Reply Card
The Woman Reply Card is not just a generic reply. It is a “Personal Reply to Hillary” back in that Fancy engraved typeface. Women Like Fancy Things. And it makes sure to drive home the Togetherness theme, and draws on Women’s Gift of Gab by asking them to “talk with [your] friends and neighbors.” Don’t worry. We will.
The Man Reply Card Features a color photo of Clinton wearing black, because black means business. Men Like Business. She is looking directly at the Man. Men Can Handle Directness.
Behind her are those “bloody” stripes again, and the tough talk continues: “Defeat,” “fight,” “got your back,” “battles.” Men Are Tough. And there is a challenge for the Man to make his “most generous contribution” possible because Men Are Good Providers and Men Like a Challenge.
The bottom of the Man Reply Card offers ample room for the Man to express himself. Men Have Important Thoughts.
The Man is also asked to volunteer. Men Take Action. The Women are asked no such thing. Women Are Too Busy/Lazy/Uniformed/Other.
The back of the Man Reply Card features the QR code code again, in two-color printing because remember, Men Love Technology.
I hope that the next President of the United States will realize that words and images have power.
I hope that person also understands that women and men deserve the same treatment in all areas, even in Direct Mail Campaign Solicitations.
Women Love Equality.