Ads: Mmm, Junk Mail

The stuff that clogs your trash can is getting an image makeover. A new postal rule that goes into effect this week allows mass mailers to send out solicitations in just about any shape or size. Until now, the U.S. Postal Service required mailers to use the square or rectangular envelopes or postcards that consumers are quick to discard. Advertisers typically get about a 1 percent response rate.

Hoping for a better response, doughnut purveyor Krispy Kreme is sending out 10,000 advertisements shaped like one of its half-opened boxes to residents of Orange County, Calif. "It seems considerably less junk maily," says Amy Inabinet, a marketing manager. "We can't mail out a dozen doughnuts. This is the closest we could get." Still, the premium mailers aren't cheap. They can cost up to $3 per piece, so companies will have to target their audience better. If only e-mail spammers could be as thoughtful.