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Today I received this none-too-tasteful direct marketing piece from the formerly tasteful Wall Street Journal:

As far as I can surmise, they basically took their regular mailing and added some scaring “economic advisory” messaging to the top and then started every paragraph with “Now featuring . . .” to indicate that they’ve somehow drastically changed their content to reflect today’s economy.

Personally, I think this is pretty lame marketing, especially for a paper like the Journal. Ironically, one of my favorite Journal stories ever was one written after 9/11 by my friend Jen Ordonez about – you guessed it – the inappropriate use of 9/11 to promote products. Here’s a snippet from that article:

DeLyon-Hunt & Associates, a PR agency based in Redondo Beach, Calif., says it was hoping to ease the nation’s post-attack doldrums when it sent out a media alert about the Kit-Cat Klock, a wall clock in the shape of a cat.

“Through America’s toughest time the Kit-Cat Klock has brightened our days for 70 years, through the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, Desert Storm and several recessions. We thought you might be interested in a historical profile of the clock in light of current events.”

Yes, my friends, it’s good to know that we can still enjoy fine wine and funny clocks, even in the worst of times. And perhaps more importantly, we can also be sure that somewhere a marketer is thinking of a way to capitalize on our woes.