Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughts on "Junk Mail"

I've been calling myself a "Junk Mail Expert" for years (decades?). One night I was at the head table with Dr. Gene Del Polito. After introducing myself, I explained that people feel empowered when I use the term. We are actually giving our recipients the right to throw away our beautiful (or not) creativity, GUILT FREE.

Lest you think that trivial... tell me what else fits? Even the spoilage in the fridge lets us know that we bought too much, didn't cap the bottle or haven't cleaned regularly. Only junk mail can be tossed aside with no thought that "I might need this some day." No worries, more will come! This is the foundational basis for the Supreme Court allowing us to directly intrude peoples' homes. "The distance from the mailbox to the trash can is sufficiently short not to constitute an invasion of privacy."

Gene got up to give his speech... somewhere in the middle he was overcome with uncharacteristic passion... He pounded the podium looking straight at me..."How are we going to be taken seriously and get decent rates... when even WE call it 'JUNK MAIL'"?

Like it or not its here to stay... if I'm not in the market for a car, then all the dealership mail is junk... if that little red light starts blinking those same mailers are carefully evaluated. It isn't about us... we work harder than ANY medium to be relevant. It is market's core dynamic that there are more prospects than buyers. "Junk mail" is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that it is OK to market, that we are not communistic, that free enterprise is alive and well... God Bless America!!!


Robert Rijkhoff said...

John, I much like your unusually franks thoughts on junk mail, but being a junk mail expert from the other side of the Atlantic it surprises me that you suggest that a law giving householders the right to say 'no' to receiving unsolicited mail would somehow be 'communistic'.

No doubt you know the famous Rowen vs USPS case better than me… The case was brought to the Supreme Court by the direct marketing industry, who appealed against a law that would allow people to stop advertisers sending unsolicited mailings and argued that the law was damaging for business. More importantly, they claimed to have a constitutional right to say anything they wanted, as often as they wanted and in any manner whatsoever – even if you asked them to stop.

The Court ruled that citizens are permitted "to erect a wall […] that no advertiser may penetrate without his acquiescence." In other words, although everyone can enjoy freedom of speech, there is no obligation to listen. Surely that should be called common sense rather than communist? It seems to me that being forced to receive advertisements (dare I say 'capitalist propaganda' :)) is rather totalitarian?

JRMigs said...

In Das Capital, Karl Marx argues that value is defined by material cost plus labor cost. Note that there is no allowance for marketing cost. Consequently, communist governments allow little place for marketing or advertising of any kind. This is not a vote by consumers, it is a complete elimination of commercial communication - because such is intrinsically valueless and therefore unnecessarily inflates the cost to the end user.

John Miglautsch <><

Robert Rijkhoff said...

I reckon we all agree that there were quite a few flaws in Marx's theories. In his defense though, it has to be said that there was no such thing as junk mail in his day :)

The point I was making, by the way, was this: force-feeding junk mail to citizens by denying them an option to say 'no' to getting their letter boxes stuffed with advertisements seems to be just as 'communistic' as banning junk mail. Surely people who don't want to receive junk mail should have an easy way of opting out?