Letter to theEditor: Would You Pay a Penny More?

“Would you pay a penny more to feed a fish that thinks?”

If you are a baby boomer, you probably already guessed that this quote is from Warren Beatty’s 1978 movie “Heaven Can Wait,” as Leo Farnsworth, just prior to his embodiment into quarterback Joe Pendleton’s body, addressed his board of directors to do away with the factory that was going to kill dolphins. It cost a little more to not kill the dolphins. He rallied the board by his passionate slogan, “Would you pay a penny more to feed a fish that thinks?”

The question is, are direct marketing businesses willing to spend a little more to do the right thing (DM News editorial, July 17)? Moving as it is, it is true we can make a difference if each one of us does our share. Even a little bit.

In 1994, I was honored to moderate a panel for the Direct Marketing Association Conference on Cause Related Marketing. Patagonia, Starbucks and Hanna Anderson were discussing ways in which their businesses “did well by doing good.”

Trying to be of value to my clients, I had been struck by the stats from a Roper study at that time indicating that 66 percent of consumers would switch brands if price and value were comparable and if a business gave a percentage of its profits to a cause. And I have written about this as well as suggested key tie-ins for my clients over the years.

I wholeheartedly join with you that this is very doable for our industry. Every direct marketing business, I think, should adopt a cause. And this could be easily fit on a Websert bounce-back on the order confirmation. It is a one-time fee to do it, and there could be a link right to the contributor site. It would increase branding and make the advertiser a true “good guy” company.

Also, it’s an easy, cost-effective beginning. Moreover, if we all do this, then we quantify the good we do in the world based on our global results.

The fun part is thinking up what cause with which to associate. Riveted from Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” I wanted to write to you so that all direct marketers would go to see it. And then I saw that Rodale Press is endorsing this movie, as rightly it should – a hand-and-glove fit.

Intimate wear companies could partner with the Human Papilloma Virus Campaign educating women on a large scale through on-page/bind-in card ads to encourage a simple test to screen for HPV.

And I am still learning of hidden opportunities for cause marketing. According to organizations in New York trying to save and help sheltered animals (46,000 of them), they desperately need towels and linens. What a no-brainer for a home products business: Send pet shelters like ASPCA and Broadway Barks your irregulars and let your customers know what good you are doing.

This would have strong implications for our industry. How about being able to tout how The Blank Company, specializing in food products, fed 45,000 orphans in Vietnam this year. This would be a far-cry headline from “Oops, junk mail stole our identity again this year, so don’t open your mail.”

DMA president/CEO John Greco works harder than anyone for this industry. Why not give him some facts to go into Washington so that the government can soften its overall stance on our industry? And perhaps by doing global good, America would not be so disliked. Since we are the gatekeepers of the information and have the command of communications channels, let us elevate direct marketing to the vital, contributing participant, the true institution in society that it can be.


Paulette Kranjac, President/CEO, List Process Company Inc., New York

[email protected]

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