Operation Smile – Direct Mail Acquisition Campaign

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Operation Smile direct mail acquisition: a cost-effective, 4-color package beats the control by 25%

The challenge

For years, Operation Smile had been using the same two-color acquisition control package with good results—but not good enough, in our view. Our challenge was to develop a new creative approach that would beat the old control and fit the organization’s very tight budget.

Russ Reid solution

A simple, inexpensive, yet compelling 6 x 9 four-color package presented the tearful face of a child in pain on the outside, and unfolded the stunning after-surgery story of that same child inside. The prospective donor was able to read about the amazing genesis of Operation Smile, and the subsequent 25-year impact they’ve had on children born with facial deformities. This way, donors could understand how their gift would impact the life of a child.


We got even more than we hoped for, as this package was a tremendous success that:

  • Increased the core list audience by 25%
  • Inspired one donor to send a check for $10,000 as a first-time gift
  • Received great feedback from Operation Smile’s in-country medical volunteers and international mission teams