Editorial: A Good Offense ...

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This do-not-mail talk is starting to nag at the industry. I'll bet it started the same way with do not call. Florida was the first state to enact a DNC law more than 15 years ago. Other states followed, and then a national registry was created. Similar events are occurring in the e-mail space.

You can bet that the do-not-mail notion is piggybacking on the success of the national no-call registry. Three states have introduced bills this year: Illinois, Missouri and New York. It's good to hear that several mailing associations have formed a coalition, though no action has been taken yet; none's needed, the bills aren't moving. It will be interesting to see how the coalition addresses the threat. It's uncertain whether a do-not-mail bill is legal because of constitutional and delivery questions. Let's hope we don't reach the point of having to figure that out.

I laughed at an e-mail from an agency executive who told us about a letter he wrote awhile back to a New Jersey politician, challenging the lawmaker to think about the more than 600,000 members of his state employed in the direct response field. I'll condense it:

Dear Mr. New Jersey State Senator,

Do you perk a fresh cup of Gevalia coffee each morning? Was the last book you read ordered from Amazon.com? Did you purchase your last shoes from zappos.com or the latest Johnston Murphy catalog? Did you buy your subscription to Roll Call newspaper through a direct response voucher mailing package? That teddy bear you sent your daughter at college - was it purchased through Vermont Teddy Bear's catalog or Web site? And the flowers you purchased for your wife for Valentine's Day, were they ordered through 1-800-Flowers?

Remember, a good offense is the best defense.

Back in the Mouse House

Here's a footnote to my editorial last week about The Walt Disney Co.'s decision to stop mailing a catalog in favor of doing more online marketing. It sounds like Eastbay Inc., which mails a catalog to junior high and high school athletes, has asked similar questions. To reduce mailing costs, the company is considering segmenting its purely Web customers and mailing them a postcard or something less expensive than a catalog (see story, page 1). Sound familiar? However, Eastbay is keeping its catalog because it also recognizes it has customers who are catalog-Internet and catalog-only buyers.

Tad Clarke is editor in chief of DM News. His editorial appears Mondays on www.dmnews.com and in our e-mail newsletter. You can subscribe to our e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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