Editorial: Lillian's 'Golden Gut'

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A long chapter -- though certainly not the last one -- in Lillian Vernon's life story came to a close last week as she announced the sale of her company to Ripplewood Holdings for $60.5 million. Vernon's start in the business is known to all, even outside the direct marketing industry. A master of merchandising, she knew what her customers wanted for half a century, what she called her "golden gut" in her book, "An Eye for Winners."

Vernon's gut must have been telling her something lately. The catalog has suffered through the weak economy, with mounting losses and plunging sales over the past two years. Too many competing catalogs, the Internet, an aging customer base, changing perceptions about the brand -- Vernon faced a far different world than the one she entered 52 years ago. Now, Vernon says she will stay on to go on buying trips and boost her public profile. But we can't forget her many accomplishments -- especially those of knocking down the barriers in what was a male-dominated business world, when role models for women were few and far between. In that, Vernon became one.

Insert Media Gets Its Day

No longer an alternative, insert media is finally getting recognized on its own. The Direct Marketing Association's Alternate Response Media Council will have its first Insert Media Day on Sept. 10. Meanwhile, last year's State of the List Industry report found that more money is being allocated to insert media as marketers look for cheaper ways to reach customers and prospects. In today's print edition, DM News introduces a new section, Insert Media. The monthly section -- which puts an end to the term "Alternative Print Media" in this newspaper -- will feature articles on inserts, ride-alongs, statement stuffers and the like, as well as how-to pieces from experts and listings being offered from various firms. The stories and listings will appear online as well..


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