Royal Mail bosses have refused to handle this month’s edition of marketing trade rag The Drum, after one bright spark thought it was good idea to include the words “fuck” and “shit” on the front cover.
The title, which claims a fortnightly circulation of 15,000, has grown from a regional mag serving Scotland into what it claims is now a global publication, with 9 million visits to its website in 2013.
This month’s issue has been sent back to the printers so the packaging can be tweaked to ensure the word cannot be seen through its transparent wrap.
The cover was based on an entry ran it ran for readers to design a World Cup poster, which read: “Fuck it football is shit. When is Downton back on.”
A Royal Mail staff member told The Drum that it would be unable to distribute the magazine due to the “offensive word on the front cover”. He explained: “There is potential that a child could pick up mail meant for their parents,” adding that “the company has previously stated that such words are not permitted on mail”. He added that Royal Mail staff could “see it and take offence”.
Senior Royal Mail staff were unable to verify whether this decision would ultimately be upheld.
Unbowed, magazine editor Gordon Young seems somewhat put out by the fuss. In a statement he said: “The sort of language our readers come across day-to-day is probably not dissimilar to the sort of language used in a Royal Mail sorting office and I reckon it is unlikely they will be offended.
“I appreciate the Royal Mail have to be alert about some of the stuff people may wish to distribute but I think they should concentrate on work which is clearly illegal as opposed to deciding what is and what is not tasteful.”
Whether the row will affect the publication’s relationship with Royal Mail MarketReach – which is currently planning a major trade magazine campaign to promote the use of direct mail and email marketing – is a different matter.
One industry source said: “It’s all a bit sloppy. It might be trying to be a hip marketing trade rag – but Royal Mail is not being unreasonable, it is simply following its guidelines.”
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