The first recorded leaflet campaign was back in 1604. It was commissioned, written and orchestrated by none other than King James I. He was prone to giving people the benefit of his opinions – and he had lots of opinions. But the thing that really wound James up, the thing he hated most in the world, was a new thing that came over from America called smoking. He was disgusted by it.
The King had a bright idea. He wrote a strongly worded leaflet and decided that he’d get it delivered to all 500,000 homes in London. Now, King James being a bit of a know it all. He assumed it would be simple to gather a bunch of people, give them some leaflets and in 2 day tops, everybody would be reading his leaflet. What he didn’t realise, was that in order to get all 500,000 dwellings delivered to in a day, he would actually need 312 people.
A few days later, the King could still see people out on the streets of London smoking. The stop smoking message didn’t seem to be getting out there. King James I started getting the feeling his leaflets hadn’t been delivered to every single home in London.
He decided to do some digging. He went off and asked his mates if they had received a leaflet through their door. He asked the Bishop of Westminster – who had been in his home all day but had received nothing. He also asked the Earl of Essex, who also hadn’t received a leaflet.
Did his leaflets actually get delivered or were they that terrible that everyone chose not to read them? Over my next 3 blog posts, I’m going to be explaining the 3 biggest mistakes that King James made.