Advertising Week's Only DM Session: Fusing DM, Branding

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NEW YORK--Direct marketing had to share the spotlight with branding at Advertising Week's sole session devoted to DM, but that's better than last year when it wasn't even mentioned.


Since only one brander was among the 50 agency executives in attendance, much of the discussion turned to the fusing of the two disciplines.


"This model talks about a respect of the disciplines coming together in a very, very holistic way that says we respect the brand builders and we respect the direct marketer folks, sales and finance to be all working together," said moderator Richard Rosen, president/CEO of AlloyRed.


Jon Roska, founder, CEO and chief creative officer at Roska Direct, said direct marketers can be their own worst enemies.


"I like to refer to direct marketers as slash-and-burn marketers We hammer a file. We feature offer, benefit, response triggers," Roska said. "We hammer and hammer it until we get in a situation where we're in a declining control position. Then we move on. It's just like burning the rain forests down as you grow crops. We deplete the soil. Over on the other side you have the brand marketer. He's building all this image awareness. I like to refer to them as a let-the-crops-rot-in-the-field marketer because they grow the crops, but they don't harvest. They don't take the order. The trick is to bring these two things together."


Shelley Lanman, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Draft, agreed.


"I think in the long run what we're after is more of a dual-like thing," Lanman said. "It should be two forces working as one to build a relationships and generate ROI."


Pam Larrick, chair and CEO of FCBiWorldwide, compared marketing with an age-old axiom in another field.


"In some ways like you think about real estate -- location, location, location -- I think increasingly it's targeting, targeting, targeting."


Other thoughts from the panelists:


Fred Rubin, partner and director of iDeutsch and directDeutsch: "Changing the lexicon is really important. It's not really about a brand. It's what the problem is and how are we going to solve it."


Rod DeVar, vice president of advertising at the U.S. Postal Service: "Clients are looking for empathy. The moons are all aligned for more of this business. We just need to have a little more empathy in the client situation."


Risa Lee Stokes, assistant vice president of institutional marketing at MetLife: "Research isn't a secret for direct marketers. We do it all the time. It really drives a lot of what we do, which is exactly what the brand people do. The strength is putting that on the table and coming together and saying, 'What do we want to do for this client?'"


Lanman: "Brand and direct need to be one. What that comes down to is who is the consumer and how can we get this consumer to engage with us?"


Roska: "It's easier for you as direct marketers to learn brand than it is for brand marketers to learn direct. That gives you the edge. Take advantage of it. If you don't, you'll miss the boat because that's where everything is headed."


Larrick: "How many times to get to be a part of an industry where you're actually getting to figure out what the next phase is? ... We get too much into the language and talking about is it a print ad? Is it TV? Is it direct mail? Is it online? It doesn't matter. It's really about the consumer."


Rosen: "It really is about respect. It really is about empathy -- and not only empathy for who you're speaking with but empathy within your copy platform, within your structure of print, mail, TV."


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