1998 Direct Marketer of the Year - Jay Walker
• Hiccup #2: CallTrack—a system that would enable large corporations to monitor the number and length of employees' personal calls and bill the employees at the companies' costs, thus raising productivity. It got a ho-hum from the corporate world.
• The Wash: Walker dreamed up an idea whereby catalog buyers could spend an extra $25 on top of their order and receive a coupon good for an upgrade on any TWA flight (buy tourist, get business; buy business, go first) or a 25 percent discount on a ticket. Tens of millions of these offers were bound into catalogs and hundreds of thousands of people bought coupons and flew TWA producing a reported $55 million profit for the airline. It came to an abrupt end when the owner, Carl Icahn, felt he was being cheated by catalogers who sold too many of his coupons. Icahn sued Walker. Only after two years and a million dollars in legal fees, Carl Icahn dropped the suit.
Catalogs at Retail: Wipeout #4
The Premise. If a consumer wants a catalog quickly—say, the L.L. Bean book for camping gear or Victoria's Secret for an upcoming tryst—there's no way of getting one; catalogs arrive on an unpredictable basis. Walker came up with the idea of selling catalogs at retail for $1 to $2. On each catalog would be a peel-off sticker that guaranteed a $5 savings on the first order. If he could persuade the catalogers to give him catalogs plus an allowance equal to the delivery cost (about 35 cents at the time, which represented postage plus list rental), Walker, in turn, would guarantee to get the catalogs into the hands of very upscale buyers who would buy only the catalogs they were interested in (and therefore likely to buy from, since they had paid $2). It was far more efficient than mailing 1,000 catalogs to cold lists and having 990 go into a landfill. What's more, catalogers wanted the new customer, not the revenue from the sale of the book. "Here was a product with a negative cost of goods," Walker said enthusiastically.