How I lost my junk mail battle

Stickers do not protect against every advertisement Keystone

Do you also have a “No Advertising” sticker on your letter box? In Switzerland, almost every second household has one - in hopes of forestalling the flood of unwanted material delivered free of charge to homes. But the deterrence effect of such stickers is minimal. At my home too!

This content was published on November 8, 2013 minutes

Although these advertisements keep us up to date not only on the development of products and services, they also – again and again and again – urge us to participate in competitions and lotteries.


Thus, many exasperated Swiss – and in the meantime, many immigrants too – invest time and money to keep these materials out of their letter boxes.


In our housing estate the property management prohibits the willy-nilly plastering of stickers on the letter boxes. The sole exception is for the sticker that reads “Stopp-Reklame” (“No Advertising”), which are available at shops in three-packs for the sum of CHF2.7 ($3).


Now, because I do not own a second or third property, in other words, I do not have more than one letter box, I wonder what's to be done with the second and third stickers.


To me, it seems legitimate to exercise the option of using them as 'advertisements against advertisements', perhaps affixing them to neighbouring letter boxes that have not (yet) put up the good fight against annoying advertising materials.

Opinion of the Publisher: red and black invited Espace Media, the publisher of the Bernerbär free newspaper, to provide a comment.

Which they did, with a wink: “The Bernerbär realises that a ‘black dot’ means the paper is not wanted.

It understands that the ‘red dot’ means please deliver. Thumbs up for the Bernerbär!”

End of insertion


As for my own “No Advertising” sticker, it has shown little indication of being effective, and most definitely not against the free newspapers cluttering up my letter box.


So, I bought a new sticker, this one with the message “No Free Newspapers”, shelling out for the second time the grand sum of CHF2.7.


On that very same day - without asking our property management for permission - I put the “No Free Newspapers” sticker next to the “No Advertising” sticker.


Alas, it didn’t do much good. The very next day, the freesheet “Bernerbär” (“Bernese Bear”) was once again ensconced in my letter box.


Completely fed up, I grabbed the telephone to call those responsible and ask if their delivery person perhaps had problems seeing or reading.

Black humour?

“The two stickers are insufficient,” the friendly lady on the other end of the telephone patiently explained. Only a “black dot,” she said, would stop delivery of the” Bernerbär.”


“At least you have a sense of humour,” I responded, certain she was pulling my leg. ”No, I’m not joking,” she insisted, then promised to mail me the aforementioned “black dot.”


Somewhat worried about ending up an unwitting participant in a hidden camera hoax - the laughingstock of the nation -  I nevertheless duly applied the said “black dot” to my letter box, which incidentally had been mailed to me that very same week by the Direct Mail Company.


I put it next to the other two stickers already adorning my post box. Amazingly, since then, the "Bernerbär" has (mostly) not made an appearance.


However, the free church weekly “Journal of the Roman Catholic Parishes” is apparently unimpressed by the “black point”. That paper is still being delivered regularly. Perhaps the problem lies in the colour of the dot?


As for the charitable appeals of the local Social Democratic Party that continue to land in my post box, I will attempt, with the assistance of a “red dot”, (red being the party colour) to symbolically bid adieu to these mailings.


Furthermore, I have promised to buy myself a “green dot,” to rid myself of the ever more diverse and plentiful advertisements for organic this and thats showing up in my letter box.


I am also irresolutely on the lookout for a colour that will put a stop to the mailings of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party. Maybe orange, because it’s trendy?


Or black and white, to reflect their worldview? Just possibly, I might decide on a mix of the two.

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