DATA RAPE: The New Direct Marketing

Swimming With the Information Sewer Rats

“As political professionals, the more data we have, the happier we are,” Indianapolis Republican consultant Kristen Luidhardt told The Wall Street Journal. “We’d love to know absolutely everything about you.”

Au contraire, Kristen. When your communications are as intrusive as your data collection, you’re not only going to spook everybody and piss them off big time, but also trash your brand.

A case in point, Ms. Republican consultant, is the blizzard of robo-calls from floundering, desperate office-seekers—and their spouses and assorted pimps at all hours of the day and evening over the past three weeks—that have only crystallized my contempt for all politicians and all parties.

For the first time in 55 years, I may sit out today’s election. It doesn’t matter who wins any more. They’re all a bunch of four-flushers in my book.

A Personal Digression
Consumers love talking about themselves. Many years ago, I had a client that mailed out consumer surveys, which were happily filled out and returned by the zillions. All kinds of questions were asked: on toothpaste, leisure activities, travel, vehicle ownership, hobbies and interests, auto insurance, etc. Much of the information the responders revealed was highly confidential, especially in the area of health.

For example, one of the questions asked if anyone in the household had one or more of 26 ailments. Included in the list: arthritis, asthma, bedwetting, Crohn’s disease, emphysema, heart attack or angina, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, etc.

In addition to the list of ailments, individual health problems were given their own sections: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and allergies, along with lists of medicines used.

Any of half a dozen arthritis drug manufacturers might sponsor one or more questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis and receive exclusive rights to responses, plus the name and address of the person who filled out the survey.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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