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Saturday, July 14, 2007


Back in May of this year, John Greco, President of junk mail trade organization, the Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA) welcomed participants to another of the industry’s conferences to figure out how to extract an extra buck from its loyal customers. (See story) This one featured the catalog and multichannel marketing, which employs multiple means to send you yet more junk mail. Although the conference didn’t address the needs of protecting consumer names and personal data, it did push the environmental issue with Greco announcing a new DMA logo, “Recycle Please.” He also called on the membership to police itself in the matter of things like recycling and reducing pollution. I hope they do a better job in this matter than they did several years ago when the DMA changed its policy to require members to give customers the right to opt-out of having their names sold. Some large junk mailers still do not follow this mandate; meaning they aren’t members of the DMA and not subject to it regulations. But I was most astonished by another statement made by Greco at the conference re. the relationship of junk mail advertising to broadcast and print media. His comments were based on a new program sponsored by the DMA called “Mail Moves America.” The point was that in the same way that TV and radio programs and newspaper and magazine editorial content are paid for by advertising, junk mail supports the postal system. So now let’s look at this analogy. In broadcast and print, everyone receives a return on their investment: TV and radio stations, magazines, newspapers and of course the advertisers. The viewers and readers are there, much as the junk mail buyer responds, but the personal aspects of their viewership or readership is not individually sold in the marketplace. But with the junk mailers, they hijack our names and private information, and place it on the market all over the world within hours of a transaction. And the $4 billion made annually from selling this sensitive data is all in addition to what you paid for the products or services purchased from the junk mail company. You, the consumer, are the very foundation of the most profitable area of the junk mail business, selling mailing lists, and you don’t receive one penny in return. How do you answer that, Mr. Greco?

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