Help Katrina's Victims

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On Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed the unthinkable from our offices here in New York. But I was far enough away from the destruction. I went home at the end of the day, and my electricity worked. My toilet flushed. I had no loved one who died. Now imagine losing everything you own. Imagine not having food to eat or water to drink. The destruction from Hurricane Katrina is nearly incomprehensible. I can only look at the images and hear the stories of despair. I can only imagine the emotions going through the people trapped there.

Not a year ago, this industry gathered in New Orleans and chatted, partied and got down to business. Will we ever go back? The Direct Marketing Association has put together a list of charities in the DMA Nonprofit Federation aiding hurricane victims. If you can't think of a charity to give to, any one on that list is a good place to start.

One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Container

Word of the future rarely arrives in the form of ordinary junk mail. But sometimes established (read: old) technologies are the best way to introduce new ones. (Just ask any of the magazine publishers who grew fat and happy, however briefly, on the VC money of early Internet players. But I digress.)

Before you lay into me about using the "junk mail" term, let me point out that those aren't my words. Scott Donaton, editor of Advertising Age, a trade publication that reports on advertising and - last I checked - direct marketing, wrote them in his column in the Aug. 29 issue. Judging by the number of solicitations I receive, Ad Age also is a firm believer in using mail to get subscribers to renew. So why is its editor badmouthing DM when he's thankful that he received the mail piece in the first place?

Donaton was referencing a mailing from the Manhattan Container Store touting its new GoShop Scan & Deliver service, which lets shoppers register a credit card number at the counter. In return, they get a wireless hand-held scanner to take around the store and scan barcodes of items they want to buy for delivery that same day. If you've ever been to that store on a weekend afternoon, you'd agree that it's worth the $15 delivery fee. Donaton said the concept and others like it will "change everything from inventory management to marketing to the size of stores and number of employees in them."

Hey, maybe that mail piece wasn't junk after all.

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

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