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#132 EARGO Hearing Aids
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, July 7, 2021



#132 Blog Post — Wednesday, July 7, 2020

Posted by Denny Hatch

The Huge Digital Ad Agency Sticks
 Its Toe in Direct Marketing Waters


This email arrived three weeks ago.

• Celebrate Father's Day? I have never been a father.

• (Is this a guy thing—only for fathers? What about Mom? And single women?)

• I never heard of EARGO.

• My hearing is perfectly okay.

• Ain't no way in hell I would stick that nasty looking thing—with what appear to be bristles or wires—deep into my ears. Eeeek!

• The main headline—"$450 OFF"—instantly signals a product costing thousands of dollars.

• Because the headline was all about price, I surfed Google and discovered EARGO hearing aids cost from $1700 to slightly less than $3000.

• Suddenly I'm forced to think about spending a lot of money. 

• $450 OFF could apply to anything—a motor scooter, kitchen appliances, a travel offer or a custom-made suit.

It's Immediately Obvious this Email Was Created By Marketers That Broke the Rules of Direct Marketing

For years Seattle's Bob Hacker—retired direct marketing agency genius, impresario, and curmudgeon—has railed against general agencies that claim to be experts in direct marketing.

It took a quick five minutes on Google to discover that name of the agency responsible for this brash, rule-breaking effort—HUGE.

I was right. Huge is not a direct marketing agency. Huge is not even a general agency.

It's a digital agency.

For a Taste of This Digital Agency
Check Out the Huge Landing Page


Learn more. Move the cursor over to the right and click on "Mat Baxter. CEO." I think you'll find it to be disjointed and making no sense.

(Incidentally in the six days of writing this blog post, the Huge landing page was changed 3x.) 

Now Scroll Down the Landing Page

• With the huge, overpowering headline featuring Mat Baxter, I was eager to find out who he is and his experience.

•  Alas, this is the only reference to—and photo of—Max Baxter on the landing page. I had to scramble all over the Huge website to find his bio.

• Prowl the website and you'll discover an agency that all about "we," "us' and "our." I couldn't find the words "you" or "your" anywhere.

• Huge is an agency filled with people hugely full of themselves.

              Am I Being Hugely Unfair to Huge?
Just to be sure I wasn't making a huge error I Googled the Huge staff directory to see if anybody—anybody at all—had direct marketing experience. I came up drier than the Mojave Desert in mid-summer.
     Lots of award-winning campaigns, Super Bowl spots, international travel, "digitally-led thinking," high-profile strategic engagements, newsworthiness, entrepreneurialism  and (my favorite) "helping clients capitalize on the seismic shift reshaping the marketing landscape."
     Click on the staff directory and you won't find a single mention of direct marketing experience anywhere in the CVs of the 21 agency principals.

Amazingly Ergo Has Entrusted Huge to Create a Huge,
Obviously Pricy Multi-media Direct Marketing Campaign

Medium #1: email
We examined the email to me in the lede of this blog post.

Medium #2: Direct Mail
Several days later I received this six-panel self-mailer printed on card stock folded down to 6" x 9" postcard size.

Here's a sample of copy from this postcard effort:

No unnecessary doctor appointments.
Just give us a call!

So small and slick they're
hidden from view

So sleek and smooth you'll
probably forget they're there

State-of-the-art technology for
The highest sound quality

No batteries required:
1 charge = up to 16 hours
of hearing perfection

Access to licensed hearing
every step of the way, forever

Medium #3: Digital Ads—Lots of Them!
Below is one of the EARGO ads that showed up on my iPad, iPhone and seemingly everywhere I wandered surfing the internet. This one was in the middle of my morning
Apple News.

Medium #4: TV and Internet—
Check Out EARGO's Condom [sic] Spot.
You read that right: Condom Spot. It might win a creativity prize, but thoroughly embarrassing—and shaming—a nice American family (as well as giving TV viewers the creepy-crawlies) will not sell hearing aids.


                                            Takeaways to Consider
•Stan Rapp, legendary co-founder of the Rapp Collins Agency came up withthe ultimate two-word definition of direct marketing: "Intimate Advertising."
• "Intimate Advertising" is not a brash, ballsy overpowering promise to deaf seniors to save $450.

• For starters, anybody who can afford $1700-$3000 for a hearing aid system would be far more interested in improved hearing—not saving $450.

• "Intimate" is generally a letter—in print or digital—from one writer whispering into the ear of one reader about recapturing the joyous sounds of music, theater, summer rain on the roof, waterfalls and—as E.B. White suggested—"the most beautiful sound in America, 'the tinkle of ice at twilight.' "

• "Lede with benefits. End with proof." —Gary North

• Of all the formats used in direct marketing, none has more power to generate action than the intimate me-to-you communication of a personal letter.

• For example, the most successful advertisement in the history of the world is the 777-word letter by Martin Conroy that brought in $2 billion in subscription revenue to The Wall Street Journal over the 25+ years it was mailed. (Think about it—777 words bringing in $2 billion. Why that's $25.7 million a word!)

• Let's say you have been assigned the task of marketing a new product (or service). Where to start?

1. Learn everything about the features and benefits of the product.

2. Get inside the head and under the skin of the person you want to reach with your message. Think how he thinks, feel what she feels. Become that person.

3. Come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)—a few pithy words that instantly capture the irresistible benefits of the product—and how it stands out from the competition.

4. Here's one for EARGO: "I can't believe it! I can hear everything for the first time in years!"

• The Huge agency writers and designers do not cause the hearts of hearing impaired seniors go pitty-pat with the benefits of hearing. Throughout their material they are fixated with the "features" of the product and show it over and over. The idea of sticking this grotesque thing deep into my ear gives me the willies. 

 • This is akin to Otto Von Bismarck's line about being served sausage right after seeing the inside of a sausage factory.

• A line of copy that gives me pause:
"No unnecessary doctor appointments. Just give us a call!"

• Why do the EARGO folks crap on doctors, calling them "unnecessary?"

• It seems to me the enthusiastic support, partnership and prescriptions of doctors would be a huge benefit to customers... and to EARGO.

• Put another way, if EARGO seems to be doing an end run around the medical profession, something must be wrong with the product.


Word count: 1069

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At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


Denny Hatch
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Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk) 

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