Introducing: Junk Me Harder

Over at Tweet Me Harder, my co-host Kris Straub and I have launched a new blog feature we’re calling Junk Me Harder. Inspired by a bit of conversation from TMH Episode 31, Junk Me Harder aims to examine, dissect, and review junk mail in a manner that’ll be familiar to readers of my (now-concluded) series The Comic Strip Doctor. Here’s a taste of Junk Me Harder:

We’ve all experienced the thrill of receiving mail followed by the crushing sadness of realizing it’s junk mail. Marketers are no dummies, however; they want to prolong the former reaction and forestall the latter for as long as possible — preferably until after you have returned the enclosed paperwork and applied for credit from their company. Thus they go to great lengths to make their missives appear “official”, as if dispatched from some Agency of Import or Bureau of Relevance sequestered deep in the bowels of the International Government Totally A Real Thing. [...]

“UPDATE BASED ON CURRENT ANALYSIS” — an overreliance on thesauri and subsets of a previous phrase’s definition seem to be the hallmarks of junk mail copy. Has anyone provided an update based on outdated information? Hearsay? Is this intended to put the recipient at ease, knowing that Discover® did not fill an envelope with raw data on reams of copier paper for the customer to interpret? That, hopefully, it has been analyzed for the purposes of a fully-current update?

NONSENSE CLAIM TO SIGNIFICANCE: 14 points

Fake rubber stamp reading “IMPORTANT”: imagine a Discover® financial adviser, having carefully considered and personally chosen You, the Preferred Customer, as a candidate for this special offer, stuffing and sealing this envelope with satisfaction. “I hope this offer comes at a good time for this Preferred Customer,” he sighs, inclining a wrist to check a fancy watch below a rolled-up sleeve. “I hope they understand the importance of this information.” Then, taking another long, hard look at the envelope, already emblazoned by stripe and slogan, he rummages through a desk drawer, fingering through a collection of rubber stamps. “Aha!” he crows. Casually but firmly, he presses the stamp onto the kraft-paper surface, leaving the outlined word IMPORTANT shining in red ink in the dim, after-hours light. “That,” he thinks, “should do the trick.”

Can you plausibly imagine this scenario? No? That’s ‘cause it didn’t happen.

FAUX APPEARANCE OF MANUAL HANDLING: 12 points

Read the full entry here!

And we are also soliciting your hilarious junk mail. Really! Send it to us for review! Mailing instructions are at the link. You can also feel free to subscribe to the TMH blog or follow TMH on Twitter to be sure of never missing an update.

BONUS LINK: If you’re jonesin’ for more of my ramblings, you should also know that I write most of the missives on the TopatoCo house blog! In between the talk about all the cool stuff we’re doing at TopatoCo, I try to be kind of entertaining as well. It’s a good thing to keep an eye on ’cause I’ve got some pretty cool plans for it soon!


  • ReverendTed

    Terrific deconstruction of a typical piece of junk mail. I’m disappointed Discover didn’t have the common courtesy to include my favorite junk-mail decoration, though: the “penalty for tampering” warning printed on the envelope, complete with reference to US Mail Code TTT.18 SEC. 1702. I love that one, because it’s easily translated to “Do Not Open. Put Directly Into Shredder.”

  • Jabrwock

    Brilliant!

    I used to work for the Better Business Bureau, and we’d see stuff like this sent in as “is this for real?”

    There was one that looked like a page ripped out of a magazine, with margin notes in pen, highlighter and a sticky note, folded up, and placed in a non-descript envelope. It was supposed to look like a friend had helpfully sent it to your attention. But the folds were too crisp, and when you folded it up, the rips lined up, so it was clear the complete pre-folded page had been ripped off a pad of pre-folded pages, complete with pre-printed “pen” notes and highlights, and all it needed was a pre-printed “handwritten” post-it attached (initialled “L.” or “J.”) before being stuck in the envelope…

    My phonebook does the same. There’s a Domino’s yellow page ad that includes a handwritten “Best Place!” with a circle around it, made to look as if someone had scribbled it helpfully in my phone book… The bastards! Who’s vandalizing my pristine phone book! I demand to know!

  • Ronsonic

    My favorite piece of junk mail had that pre-printed post-it note on it that said “thought you should see this” in faux handwriting.