Sticker club or chain letter?

Yesterday my 2 year old got a letter from a friend. Seeing as she can't read yet (and her SEO skills aren't developed either), I opened it for her.

It's a letter welcoming her to "Sticker club". Cool. All you need to do is post a packet of stickers to the person whose name appears at the top of the page, add your name to the list, then post to 10 of your friends. After a month or so, you can expect 50 packets of stickers in your mailbox for you to keep.


As I'm reading this letter, the coder inside me is doing an imaginary find-replace to swap out "packet of stickers" with "$100". After the find-replace is done, you are left with a clear-cut chain letter.

Ooh, a chain letter

I haven't had a real chain letter for years, they sort of died out when people realized you could sucker many more people using internet chain letters. Chain letters in New Zealand are illegal, and they should be - while the concept sounds great, the end result is that most of the people involved will lost their money. Or in this case, packet of stickers.

Some might say it's all a bit of fun, and a pack of stickers only costs a dollar or 2, and what's the big deal. Here's where I turn this shamelessly off-topic parenting post back around to internet marketing.

As we revisit old concepts, the branding changes so we don't think about it as an old concept. I'm sure a lot of people would consider this sticker club to be a harmless sticker club, whereas they would have binned anything labelled as a chain letter. It's a bit like people that resell Amway products will call what they do anything except "Amway". It's a bit like the guestbook being called a blog.

I'm just not sure it's a good idea to be encouraging a glorified "get rich quick" scheme to a 2 year old.

I'll have a followup post on CMS systems shortly which illustrates this point another way.
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Tags: worst practicemarketing"worst practice" marketing