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LETTER: DMA’s Education Drive Misses Mark

Regarding the DMA’s $100 million campaign to educate consumers about privacy (//www.dmnews.com/articles/2000-10-16/11089.html), I suspect that trying to teach the layperson about opting out of cookies and e-profiling won’t help.

My suspicion is that it would be more helpful to explain that they are similar, and no more invasive, than the name collecting done by businesses for the past century. That may have gotten some people more mail and catalogs than they really wanted, but it also got them the ones they did want.

As for jobs and whole industries at stake, I doubt that’s a winning argument. It certainly never influenced the ongoing attacks on junk mail.

Cookies remind me of my first job in advertising with Kroch’s and Brentano’s, then the country’s major privately owned retail bookstore chain. Other than invoices, every piece of mail went first to an address-storing center and was checked, and new names were added to the mailing list. Toggled tabs at the top of metal addressing plates were coded for areas of interest as well as for activity. Complaints went to the president.

Later on, as we became more sophisticated, the same plates were used to address invoices and customer notification of order status. Occasionally, the list was traded with cultural institutions to our mutual benefit. That was in 1955.

My suspicion is that much of today’s stirring of privacy fears is fueled by the same forces that battled junk mail then — the print, radio and TV industries, which saw it as a competitor for advertising revenue and now see e-advertising the same way.

• Fred Hahn


Fred Hahn Associates

[email protected]

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