Editorial: This Diamond's Pretty Rough

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Yes, the Internet shakeout has caused many e-tailers and traditional catalogers to rethink their goals as the unending stream of funding dries up. Catalog columnist Bill Dean asks where innovation went, saying that to wait for the next cataloger to test an idea and then copy it is a sure way to stay mired in the lower ranks (http://www.dmnews.com/articles/2000-06-19/9002.html).

Meanwhile, Blue Nile tried something different (http://www.dmnews.com/articles/2000-06-26/9003.html). Instead of mailing a catalog this spring, the jewelry e-tailer sent out a 40-page booklet with self-indulgent stories on everything from how to appreciate rhythmic gymnastics to how to read a person's palm. Innovative? Perhaps. Different? Definitely. Effective? Not on your life. First off, the brand recognition for this 13-month-old start-up is nil, and it's only the booklet's last two pages that explain what the company is. More importantly, the booklet doesn't sell a single thing, instead opting to have its Web site address at the bottom of each page in hopes of driving people there. Will this traffic be measurable? No. Cathy Halligan, vice president of direct marketing, said the company's objective is to brand itself as the dominant diamond and fine jewelry retailer. OK, but wouldn't you want to tell your readers that in the first few pages instead of how to carve a turkey?

Put Your Message Here

Here's one for the where-will-they-put-advertising-next department: Advent Advertising Corp. has patented a product allowing messages to be affixed to the overhead storage bin doors in airplanes. The company's announcement last week said the bins "are among the most hotly coveted pieces of real estate on commercial airlines."

I'm not sure about you, but the only time I look at the bins is when I'm impatiently waiting to get to my seat when I first board, frustrated because of the traffic jam someone has caused by trying to jam his steamer trunk into the overhead bin nine seats down. I can't wait till my plane is held at the gate because some idiot won't sit down until he finishes reading Ineedalife.com's advertisement. What's next? Messages from personal injury attorneys on the oxygen masks?

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