Brilliant Marketing or Creepy Marketing?

Anybody who has read any of my past articles, read my books or attended any of my webinars knows I’m a big fan of creating personalized, “me to you” marketing.

I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better strategy to improve your next marketing campaign than making sure it feels as personalized as possible.  I would challenge you to continue to seek ways to improve the look, feel and personalization as you plan out your 2013 marketing campaigns.

On a side note, I recently launched Simple PURLs which allows you to create personalized URL or PURL campaigns quickly and easily.  Our early adopters are hitting homeruns, so check it out at

Recently, I came across the MOST UNIQUE personalized marketing campaign I’ve ever seen.  Personally, I think the concept is brilliant and while I don’t know what revenue the campaign generated, it’s something you must see.

A Canadian Porsche dealer toured wealthy neighborhoods in Toronto and parked a brand new Porsche 911 in front of the driveways of these affluent houses.

The crew then got out and took photos of the car in front of the house, then went back to their mobile office,  uploaded them onto their computer, did a little graphic-editing to make it the flyer background and then printed out a personalized flyer, along with the brilliant headline, “It’s Closer Than You Think” on the spot.


These personalized flyers were hand-delivered to home-owner’s doorstep.

The results? 32% of these targeted luxury home owners came in for a test drive. I could not find any information if anybody bought a new Porsche.

Is this an example of brilliant marketing or is it a bit too creepy in your opinion?

Which ever you think, you cannot deny the creative genius behind this marketing campaign.

I’ve seen other, tamer versions of this same concept of creating “hyper-personalized” marketing.  Interestingly, both were used on me…

A CopyDoodles Access Club member who is also a web developer sent me a letter where he used my own comics on me.  The comics show screen shots of my web sites in the comic itself.  Think it got my attention? Nice job Simon!


And then I got this card in the mail from Andrew where he snagged a headshot photo of me and put it on the front of the card.  Think I read the card?  You bet I did!


Nothing stops people in their tracks like seeing their name in print, or seeing something they recognize being used in the marketing piece.  Both Simon and Andrew’s examples got my immediate attention because they used something personal to me when marketing to me.

The Porsche campaign did the same thing with a hyper-personalized flyer which causes the recipient to imagine a new Porsche sitting in their driveway.  Creating marketing which allows your prospects to “see themselves” using your product successfully is a very smart marketing strategy.

You can see a video about this campaign by clicking here.

You can download a booklet I put together about this campaign by clicking here.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this Porsche campaign and whether you think it’s brilliant or creepy?  Does it go “too far” with the personalization?  Leave your comments below!



  1. Victoria Collier on December 13, 2012 at 9:21 am


    I think the Porche idea is BRILLIANT! Thank you for sharing. Really goes to show how creative we can be with a little more thought. Have a great holiday.

  2. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Thanks Victoria! Happy holidays to you too!

  3. Charlie on December 13, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Hi Mike,

    GREAT POST! Could you tell me where/how Andrew was able to create that card? Brilliant!

    Thank you,

  4. David Clarke - Simply Effective Videos on December 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

    That is classic guerrilla marketing.
    Now if they can find a way to get the digital image to them thru a Facebook like they could then exploit the circle of influence of each home owner.

    Way to go.

    Here in Atlanta, Porsche is moving from the north side of town to a not so high income area near the airport. Press release says it’s to have room for a test track.
    It will be interesting to see what happens.

  5. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Charlie, as far as I can tell… he found a picture of me online and used SendOutCards to create the card to send to me.

  6. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the note David!

  7. Ken May on December 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I thik the concept is brillant, but it would have nice to know how many people actually bought the car. They did a good job of getting people into the showroom.

  8. peter taylor on December 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I think the Porsche idea is great personalized marketing

    I’ve done similar in Real Estate…took pictures of out of town investors homes, sent them a SendoutCards card with a pic of their home and asked if I could help sell their property. Got good results and certainly got their attention

  9. Edwin Soler on December 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Brilliant! This person knows who can even buy a Porsche to begin with, the wealthy. He did hid reaserach and used it brilliantly. This reminds me of the famous carpet cleaner story Dan Kennedy has said a lot about. This up and coming carpet cleaner was sending flyers to the wrong neigborhood where pratically no one cared about having their carpets cleaned if they even had any. Once this was addressed, this customer found instant success. But using someone’s actual home and pushing that emotional buy button buy placing it in their own driveway and using that powerful headline is genius! Two votes for brilliant so far and none for creepy!

  10. Raimund on December 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Brilliant & responsive! (not over the edge,still has some room left)

  11. Steve on December 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

    One of my independent insurance agent clients do something similar. The Agent takes a photo of the home they want to insure and creates a marketing post card from that.

  12. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Peter, very nice! Can you email me an example?

  13. Len on December 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

    It was brilliant for the agency that created it (Lowe Roche), they’ve received publicity non-stop since it initially appeared in Advertising Age.

    Response doesn’t translate to the bottom-line without conversion. If they’re touting a 32% response rate, odds are it didn’t result in a single conversion. Otherwise they’d be promoting revenue, not response.

    In my opinion, this was a great promotion for Lowe Roche, not their client. Frankly, a campaign like this isn’t scalable.

  14. David Cathers on December 13, 2012 at 11:19 am


    I did something like this a year ago. After selling a house in a neighborhood I created a very personalized follow up card. First I drove through the neighborhood of 51 homes. I photgraphed every house. Then sent out a postcard that had the following Headline and content.

    Another property just sold in 2 days in Quail Park…
    Do you know how that affects the price of YOUR house?

    David Cathers
    Home Team NW
    Diiiirect: 253-278-9251
    Find Out How Much Your Quail Park Home is
    Worth In Today’s Market..
    If you’re going to sell your house in the next 6-12 months, what you do right
    now to prepare for the sale could make a difference of thousands of dollars.
    The first thing you’ll need to know is how much your house is worth compared
    to other homes in today’s market.
    It’s easy to find out…
    Now you can get a FREE Market Activity Report of homes for sale and Sold in
    your neighborhood in the last 12 months—so you have a good idea of what
    homes like yours are selling for.
    PLUS: Get a Free Report on which improvements and fix-ups will give you the
    best return on your investment as you prepare your house for sale.
    To get the most current Neighborhood Market Activity Report for your area just
    go to or call 253-278-9251 and we’ll send
    it out right away.

    Each home received the postcard with the picture of their own home. I received an 11.76% call on the first mailing.Two months later I did a follow up letter with the picture attached to the letter. This brought another 3 calls.

    If you would like I can send you a copy of one of the postcards. And I’ll tell you what the different callers responses were.

    David Cathers

  15. Lawrence Bernstein on December 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

    It’s ballsy, Mike.

    Thanks for sharing this zinger.

    Wouldn’t it be an even better DM propmo if you could cross reference DMV records or luxury vehicle purchases with the segmented mailing list?

    E.G., if they own a beemer. “You know how great the 6 Series is but maybe you’ve dreamed about owning a Porsche? Now, driving one may be closer than you’ve imagined.”

  16. Tom Larsen on December 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

    The results are what counts – 32%! So creepy isn’t a word I’d use here based on those results!

  17. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

    David – thanks and please do!

  18. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Hi Lawrence! Indeed it is ballsy! Let me know when that email product is done.

  19. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Tom, those are responses for a free test drive. I would love to know how many of those people actually purchased. Wonder what kind of “special offer” they do on Porsches? 🙂

  20. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Len – given the long tail of a purchase like this, maybe some sales transpired… but I could not find any updates. I agree, it has the feel of an agency award type campaign, but its still very cool and it’s a good learning opportunity to see if marketers can think of unique ways to personalized their marketing.

  21. Jim Edholm on December 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I think it’s brilliant and there’s NOTHING creepy about it. If they’d opened the garage and put the Porsche in there … that woulda been creepy. But not this. How can someone NOT open or respond to a program of that type.

    My assignment to myself this afternoon is to figure out how I can adapt this to my Employee Benefits business… hmmm.

  22. Mike Capuzzi on December 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Jim – I know you can do it! You’re always about fast implementation.

  23. Steve Sipress on December 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Brilliant. It clearly did its job of getting a response (visit to dealership and test drive). Lack of sales could be for any number of reasons, including poor salesmanship or a weak offer or follow-up issues, etc.

    And you’re right — it’s EXTREMELY too small of a sample and WAY too early in the sales process to judge results, in my opinion…

    a. What could “32%” mean? It could be only 19 homes targeted, so just 6 test drives.

    b. It’s likely that every single one of those homeowners already owns at least one — or more — luxury cars. So I’d be happy that I got them even to visit the dealership and take a test drive. If the dealership plays its cards right, this could easily result in at least one sale at sometime in the future.

    And even just one sale has got to result in a HUGE ROI, considering the incredibly low cost of this campaign.

    That would certainly justify scaling the campaign — definitely not that hard or costly to do.

    Just my 2 cents.

  24. BlazeCom on December 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    creativity with a marketing budget allows for these clever, considerable work tactics. However, at some point there is a presumption of privacy invasion of which people need to be careful….

  25. Joe Vega on December 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    This marketing promotion strategy is fantastic one of the best I have ever seen, instead of a car how about a new boat, a new motorcycle, the products are endless. Not creepy at all, who ever came up with this one, I would love to have him as a partner on my consulting business.

  26. David Hunter on December 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    You can’t argue with a 32% response!!

    I should do this for expired and FSBO listings!!

  27. Andrea on December 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Creepy and over the edge. Yeah, they pushed buttons and got people into their showrooms but I wonder if they closed any of those sales. Even one sale. My me-to-you gut reaction tells me they didn’t. People are in those showrooms investigating their fear, the set of alarms that went off because personal boundaries were crossed.

    In my view, “imagination” is laudable when it accomplishes its ends without violating proper bounds. Maybe that’s the old fuddy duddy in me but it seems great marketing and advertising should be able to do that.

  28. Peter Mulcahy on December 14, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Brilliant. If I could get a response like that I would be delighted.
    They did a very good job in selecting their target market. I particularly liked the way they parked the car in the driveway of each home. It gave a very personalized experience for the prospect.
    It would get the conversation going inside their heads, and possibly get them sold before the test drive. “YES! That would look really good sitting in the driveway. It would give me the edge over the Jones’es next door. I think I better book a test drive.”

  29. Mike Capuzzi on December 14, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Andrea – thanks for your comments. Interestingly when I showed this campaign to my mastermind group recently, women overwhelmingly felt it crossed boundaries. The men in the room were more or less salivating over the Porsche.

  30. Steve Sipress on December 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for that insight, Mike.

    Based on that gender specific reaction, I would suggest in the future to include copy on the flyer to put people at ease about the “creepiness”, such as explaining that all we did was park the car in the driveway, not even really near the garage, and most certainly didn’t go anywhere near the house, etc. etc. I might even show a small photo of the person who did the parking/photography, to ease concerns. And I would certainly visit the local police department first and explain what I would be doing, so they would be prepared to respond to any inquiries, and I would include copy (and possible photo of me at the police station, or of the letter to or from the police about this, etc.) about this on the flyer. I’m assuming, by the way, that there’s plenty of room for all of this on the back of the flyer, which was very likely not utilized at all in the original promotion.

    Do you think that would help? (I’m especially interested to hear what women have to say.)

  31. Mike Capuzzi on December 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm


    Seeing how this really is not scalable (or practical for most business owners), I doubt it matters. I wanted to share it simply as an example of “hyper-personalization” and a pretty cool idea. But it does reek of agency-style, “this can win an award” type marketing. But its still cool. 🙂

  32. Steve Sipress on December 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Of course it’s not practical for most business owners, but I think the concept could be used by those selling very high-end products/services.

    For example, what about a realtor photo-shopping a photo of their client standing on the bedroom balcony of their possible “dream home”, or a private jet company photo-shopping their prospect standing in front of their newest plane, etc.?

    The Porsche dealer could have done the same, taking a lot of the “creepiness” out of it (would the prospect be horrified at the dealer having snapped a photo of their home from the street without even exiting the car?).

    A painter or landscaper could use Photoshop with a photo of an affluent prospect’s home to show “what your home could look like if you use our services…” — similar to beauty salons, dentists, etc. using computer imaging to show prospects before-and-afters.

    Bottom-line: Even clueless ad agency stuff can be made useful and effective by adding a dose of Mike Capuzzi principles and cosmetics.

    Thanks for finding and sharing this stuff with us!

  33. Dave Alexander on December 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I think what was brilliant was your headline, “Brilliant Marketing or Creepy Marketing.” If it did not say creepy marketing, I don’t think I would have read on. Yikes, not sure what that says about me.

  34. Mike Capuzzi on December 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks Dave!

  35. Gary on December 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    What a fantastic idea! Definitely a Champion mentality on how to separate one from the competition. The concept empowers the prospect to envision themselves in the Success Transformation you are selling. Now to implement this into our business – Thanks!

    Gary “The Business Soldier” Levesque

  36. Anthony Attanasio on December 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I think it was brilliant marketing because of the high end product they sell. It got people into their dealership that may of never test drove a Porsche. Once they come in it’s up to the salesman and the product to close the deal.
    Mike–Merry Christmas

  37. Rebecca Bloomquist on December 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    As a woman I’m torn. From purely a marketing standpoint the ‘me to you’ delivery of this campaign ‘hit home’ (pun intended). However, if this piece had come to me I would have found it a bit edgy. Just up to the ‘creepy’ line.

  38. Karen McCormick on December 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Biggest problem with this is it really pushes the boundary of what is acceptable. Will using a zoom lens to take a photo of our living room in order to show us how the latest greatest gadget looks on our mantle be next?

    It’s easy to see why so many women find this objectionable. Having strangers hanging around the front of one’s home feels like an intrusion, and most people who do that sort of thing these days are perverts and/or criminals. Not the best way to market if you want your customer to feel safe doing business with you.

  39. Jeff on December 19, 2012 at 1:08 am

    #1 – I believe it is a FELONY to put anything in a mail box other than posted mail. Now USPS inspectors have video evidence of these felonies. 🙂

    #2 – Same thing might have been accomplished using Google STREET view, if the streets they targeted are on that, at probably MUCH lower cost

    #3 – Very aggressive campaign, but without results, how can one judge it? LOTS of ‘cool’ things have been done over the years that have not resulted in positive ROI

  40. Mike Capuzzi on December 19, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Jeff – this was in Canada, so I suppose the mailbox laws are different. 32% booking a test drive is not a bad first step, but I suppose if anybody did buy, we would have known about it.

  41. Alistair on February 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Excellent idea, which achieved its aim, of creating a qualified lead that comes to the showroom. To achieve that rate of return is impressive. Whether these converted to sales is not an issue for the marketing campaign, but it is a sales issue. All the good marketing work could have been undone as soon as the lead walked into the showroom, who knows? It is one step at a time – and if generating qualified leads is the goal, then this is clearly a big success.