The Museum Wants Me? An Analysis of a Direct Mail Campaign from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Carla Sifoni

A white envelope addressed to me from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts arrived unexpectedly one morning.The Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsHow does the MMFA know my name? As I open the envelope, I ampresented with a glossy foldout invitation. I am taken aback by the following message: The Museum wants you as a VIP. Whoa, did they say VIP? That is so cool! But why me? There’s not much time to ponder myfortune. An image on the card of a VIP-marked sticker peeling off gives me the impression that if I don’t act quickly enough, I’m going to lose my chance.

My name is written in a sophisticated font in the centre of the card, above even the museum’s logo and title,which makes me feel like I am worthy of representing their high-end image and reputation. Under my name, the card announces: You deserve the very best! I wonder to myself, Oh really? How so? I am told that “because [I] love art and culture, the Museum has chosen [me] to join its select group of visitors”. I am completely freaking out. How do they know I love art and culture? And how do they know me well enough to decide that I should be chosen as a preferred visitor?

I feel so honored and excited that I must continue reading. This is where I am offered the advantages of being a “VIP” if I sign up now. I scan through the paragraph and I am caught on benefits such as: unlimited VIP access to all museum exhibitions – What! ALL of them?; discounts from partners – I can seriously benefit from other institutions too?; and my name will go into a draw to win not only one, but two prizes. No way!

I am reminded that I still have time to go see the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition and attend the Andy Warhol VIP preview coming up – I have been dying to go to the YSL exhibition for the longest time! How do they know? Andy Warhol? Are they serious? I love him! Now they’re telling me I can view the exhibition before every other regular guest? Honestly! I’m freaking out! How do they know so much about my interests? How? All of a sudden, there is a double space on the page and the card declares: The red carpet awaits! Ah! Now they’re really making it hard for me to say no! Wow! How important is this that there’s even a red carpet? The letter is finally signed by Danielle Champagne, director of communications. I don’t know who she is and how she found me, but at this point I don’t care. I just want to find out more!

The card explains to me that there are “8 good reasons to become a Museum VIP”:

  1. Free, unlimited access to all exhibitions. – Sounds good, I knew that part.
  2. Priority access – no waiting in line! – Ah! Now they’re talking!
  3. Invitations to exclusive previews of major exhibitions.  – Exclusive? I’m in!
  4. Free annual subscription to M, the Museum’s magazine. – Wow! Free updates!
  5. Free or reduced admission to dozens of cultural activities, films on art, workshops, courses, and more.– Free things to do on my spare time? Unbelievable!
  6. 10% discount at the Museum Boutique and Bookstore. – Hmmm, not bad.
  7. Invitation’s to exclusive tours of the Museum’s collection. – That could be fun.
  8. Discounts offered by our cultural partners– Ooooh discounts, which partners?
  9. Customized membership to suit your needs and interests. – Oh, I always love customized items.

I pause for a moment and wonder; I still don’t understand why they are offering me all these rewards. What could I have possibly done to deserve this? The card then informs me that I can “become a VIP instantly!…IT’S FAST AND EASY” just by going to the website. What am I waiting for? Sign me up!