As New York City workers and residents grappled with the devastating effects of the city’s two-day-old transit workers’ strike, at least one merchant incorporated commuters’ frustration into a personalized e-mail holiday sales pitch. 1-800-Flowers.com on Dec. 21 sent a customized e-mail to the New Yorkers in its file offering them up to 25% off its Christmas collection.
“Save the subway fare and up to 25% too!” said the e-mail’s subject line. “It’s been one hectic holiday season here in New York! We’ve dealt with everything from transit strikes to unpredictable weather to soaring gas prices,” said the e-mail, which was also personalized with recipients’ first names. “What can a savvy New Yorker do to fight gridlock and get gifts delivered in time for the holidays? Shop at 1-800-Flowers.com and save up to 25%* on gifts from our Christmas collection!”
Andrea Vitale, vice president, direct marketing for Westbury, NY-based 1-800-Flowers.com says that someone had the idea Tuesday to send a strike-related e-mail to New Yorkers, and the promotion went out the next day. “We thought it was a good way to personalize our messages and keep them relevant,” she explains. 1-800-Flowers’ marketing executives were also careful to word the e-mail so it still had relevance if the strike ended yesterday before the promotion arrived in peoples’ inboxes, Vitale adds.
The strike-related offer went to e-mail addresses in 1-800-Flowers’ file in Manhattan and New York’s other four boroughs, said Vitale. The New York tri-state area is 1-800-Flowers’ biggest market and New York City residents represent between 5% and 10% of the company’s file, she says. It’s too early to tell how well the pitch is doing, Vitale says, but two years ago, 1-800-Flowers.com sent an e-mail promotion incorporating a massive recent snowstorm in to its copy that did quite well.
New York transit workers walked off the job on Dec. 20 at 12:01 a.m., leaving New Yorkers and others in the surrounding area scrambling to find ways to work–and no doubt putting a crimp in Christmas shopping plans. The last time they struck was in 1980; that strike lasted 11 days.