Creative Cage Match: Battle of the Birthday Wishes

I turned 34 less than two weeks ago, so let’s take a peek into my inbox to look at a couple of the birthday wishes I received from marketers. I had quite a few to choose from, but decided to pass on showing you the one from my dentist (also, who wants to think about their dentist on their birthday?).

Now let’s shift gears from banks to booze, Islay Scotch whisky to be exact. Fun fact: I don’t drink Laphroaig, I bake with it. Its smokiness pairs perfectly with chocolate, as well as vanilla. Perhaps if you ask me nicely, I’ll send you a recipe.

I joined the Friends of Laphroaig in late 2014, so this is the second birthday email I’ve received from them to date. The email’s subject line, much like Capital One 360’s, fails to put the emphasis on me and use personalization (unlike other emails I received from DSW and ThinkGeek, who both used my first name).

It reads “Happy Birthday from Laphroaig,” and gets lucky, because I always open emails from my favorite Scotch distillery.

Friends of Laphroaig birthday emailWhile both marketers fail to put me in the spotlight of their subject lines, Laphroaig’s message definitely puts the focus on me. It makes notice of my plot number, as well as my time spent being a Friend of Laphroaig.

There’s a mention of a birthday card (ooh, I love cards!), but I continue to read through, since there’s the mention of a present! Yes, that’s right, I received a 10 percent discount — good for three months — to be used in the Friends of Laphroaig online shop.

Hey, Capital One 360, where’s my birthday present?

The email also includes an image of Laphroaig 10-year (my baking whisky of choice), and is signed by the Master Distiller, John Campbell. I enjoy these little touches. And then, the birthday card:

Laphroaig Birthday CardIt’s personalized with my name and how old I am. It includes a Robert Burns quote, and well, it’s just classy.

So who won the Battle of the Birthday? Bank or booze?

While both marketers need to get their subject lines in shape (hello, snooze fest), they both provided something special: a cute birthday video from Capital One 360, and a personalized birthday card and promo code from Friends of Laphroaig.

In the end, I have to pick Friends of Laphroaig. I feel like I received a more personal message, even though I can almost guarantee it’s a template that uses personlization. But it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.

And that’s what is important. Your customers should feel special … especially on their birthdays.

Want to suggest some potential Creative Cage Match marketers, or do you just like snooping in my inbox? Either way, comment below, or email me directly at!

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

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