By Steve Kelman

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The Lectern: Sending a scent by snail mail

"Sending a scent by snail mail" is the title of an intriguing article that caught my eye in the business section of this morning's New York Times. It seems like the Royal Mail, the U.K.'s equivalent of USPS, has come up with an idea to promote use of snail-mail direct mail marketing in an age of Internet advertising. They are working with direct marketers to incorporate product scents, tastes, or sounds in marketing materials sent to postal customers. "A shampoo company could add the fragrance of its product. A soft drink maker could include a taste of the cola. A carmaker could demonstrate the sound of an engine," The New York Times reports. This idea is of course an adaptation and extension of the practice of putting perfume scents in magazine ads.


I thought of this of course as an "innovations in government" story. Nice to see government organizations trying hard to come up with valuable new ideas. Clearly the Royal Mail, like the USPS, is sitting atop what the change management consultants call a "burning platform." But it's also interesting -- though one case hardly proves the argument -- that this innovative idea came from the Royal Mail, in a country where government innovation is vigorously promoted, rather than the USPS in our country, where we are going through a terrible innovation drought in government, a product of today's fear-centered public management environment.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Nov 15, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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