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Letter: ‘Back of Book’ Mentality Contributes to Negative Stereotypes

A final word (at least from me) on the “Caples Controversy.” In last week’s letters section, Mark Everett Johnson bragged that he created “one of the ugliest pieces of advertising ever mailed” and then went on to detail its success.

That’s all well and good for advertisers who exist in a world where brand image has no salience. But what about an auto manufacturer? A clothing maker? A package goods brand? Or countless other marketers who are “discovering” direct? Should we tell them to just go away? Or to mail or run schlock and forget branding altogether? This “back of the book,” “junk mail” mentality contributes to the negative stereotypes long associated with direct.

I, along with many, many other creatives, labor long and hard to craft direct that is tasteful, engaging and, yes, even welcome in people’s homes – all to generate a high rate of response. And while creatives like myself do so for personal gain (winning a Caples), we are at the same time elevating the industry and contributing to its growth. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” says the adage. Excuse me while I run to patch a few leaks created by the advocates of ugly.

Steven DiManni, Senior vice president, creative director, McCaffery, Ratner, Gottlieb & Lane, Board member, John Caples International Awards

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