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DMers Not Altering Sept. 11 Mail Plans, but Telemarketers May Call Less

Though much of the advertising industry is running away from Sept. 11, direct marketers said last week that they aren't rearranging their mail schedules. Telemarketing is another story, however, as some companies may stop outbound calls that day — especially in the Northeast.

Teleservices provider Access Direct, Cedar Rapids, IA, said one of its financial clients directed it not to call any consumers in the New York, Pennsylvania and Washington regions Sept. 11. All other calling for the client is to be delayed until after noon EST, Access said.

Jon Hamilton, a veteran teleservices consultant and president of JHA Telemanagement, said he told all of his clients not to call on that date, especially given the controversy surrounding the telemarketing industry.

“We have advised our clients to cease calling the day before and not start up again until Sept. 12,” he said. “I think it's especially important to put our best foot forward as telemarketers.”

Other outbound providers, including Telespectrum and ICT Group, said they were still discussing the situation with their clients. Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, said he expects Sept. 11 to be a slow business day in general.

“I wonder whether or not telemarketers may use less workers that day because they may figure people will not be buying products on that day,” he said.

Meanwhile, mailers said it will be business as usual. Phil Claiborne, director of circulation at Elks Magazine, said he thought Sept. 11 might be a good day for a company to have a mail piece hit homes.

“I would think people will be home that day, or at least they may not go out for dinner at night, so they may take the time to look at their mail,” he said.

Howard Schwartz, executive director of distribution and postal affairs at Conde Nast Publications, New York, said his company's mailings will go out as usual, and many will hit homes the second week of September.

Deputy postmaster general John Nolan said he hasn't heard of any direct marketers changing their mail plans to avoid Sept. 11.

“We are going to absolutely be delivering mail on that day, and we hope people are going to be mailing on that day,” he said. “If people stop continuing their everyday business, we are letting the terrorists win.”

Madison Avenue could see losses as high as $60 million in ad revenue. Among the pullouts: United Airlines, American Airlines and Coca-Cola. Ford Motor Co. said last week that it will air commercials during regular programming but not during coverage devoted to the attacks. Other companies are considering sponsorship deals.

Whether to advertise on Sept. 11 may be on the minds of people in New York and Washington more than elsewhere in the country “because it happened in our back [yard],” said Charley Howard, Glen Burnie, MD-based vice president of postal affairs and special projects at Harte-Hanks.

“It's not that I don't think people in other parts of the country care or were not affected by it, it's just that I don't think they have the same reaction to it as we do,” he said. “I have several retail clients who have direct mail pieces scheduled to hit homes on Sept. 11. After all, there are a lot of economic issues at stake here, and I don't think anyone can afford not to advertise this fall.”

Joseph E. Schick, director of postal affairs at Quad/Graphics Inc., Pewaukee, WI, said that only one customer asked that mail not arrive in homes Sept. 11.

“We are trying to accommodate that mailer, but it will be difficult” because Sept. 11 is in the middle of the week, and mail is usually sent out in batches at the start of the week.

Plow & Hearth, Madison, VA, which mails multiple catalog titles, didn't change its schedule. Catalogs are to arrive in homes the last week of August and just after Sept. 11, said Peter M. Rice, senior vice president of marketing.

“Changing a mail date is a big deal, and we've left all of our mail dates the same,” he said. “Our circulation quantities are unchanged as well. Our mailing pattern is such that we are going to hit right around Sept. 11 — on the 14th and after — and another hitting on the 21st or later.”

It also will be business as usual for mailings from the American Management Association, said Laura Grafeld, manager of production and traffic.

“Our direct mailers promoting our seminars will arrive at people's homes the second week of September just as they have done for years,” she said. “We are not doing anything different.”

Executives at Windsor Vineyards, however, said they decided months ago to change their mail plans to avoid the second week of September.

“All of our mailings are scheduled not to be in home on the 11th,” said Donna M. Elias, executive vice president of marketing at Windsor Vineyards, Windsor, CA. “We're dropping Aug. 13 and not again until the last week of August and then after the 12th.”

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