Junk flyers

There were two of them today.

I found them, as usual, when I went out to fetch the mail from the box across the street. (Mail to the houses in our neighborhood is delivered to groups of locked boxes mounted on posts every half-block or so.) I could see others scattered in the driveways and gutters of the neighboring houses, too. Maybe it’s spontaneous generation.

I don’t even look anymore to see what they’re for—I just pick them up and toss them in the trash.

What are they? They are one of the least effective forms of advertising ever invented—the flyer and pebble in a little plastic bag. The flyer is usually only a half- or quarter-sheet of copy paper, often in a violently bright color, advertising a local business—a dry cleaner, a landscape service, a sandwich shop. The pebble, of course, is to anchor the silly thing so it doesn’t blow away—it would be a waste of the advertiser’s money to have them all end up at a single address jammed against a fence. The logic, I guess, is that it’s not wasteful if each householder has to pick up and toss their own little ad packet individually.

Do small businesses do these all on their own or are there flyer-and-pebble-in-plastic-bag marketing companies? Is there a whole industry devoted to this form of advertising, with specialty pebble and plastic bag suppliers? Have there been studies done to determine the optimum ad pebble? Are there baggie delivery services devoted to the efficient littering of neighborhoods with them?

Most important, is there a way to stop it ? The Direct Marketing Association has its opt-out service. How do I opt out of baggies with pebbles?

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