P&G Heads for the Database Abyss
“Database marketing is officially sexy,” gushed researcher Julie Katz on April 11, 2007 in Forrester’s Marketing Blog in response to the announcement that Procter & Gamble’s Elva Lewis has conned her management into testing the database marketing waters.
“The boat’s setting sail, and we have one foot on the dock and one on the boat,” Lewis told AdAge.com’s Matthew Creamer. “If you listen to A.G. Lafley or Jim Stengel, they’re all talking about the declining return on investment in TV. This trend tells us that we should go to one-to-one marketing. We just haven’t put our money where our mouth is.”
If you listen to Denny Hatch, Ms. Lewis, you’ll bail out of this cockamamie scheme right now.
Package-Goods Nuttiness in the Early 1990s
Back when my wife, Peggy, and I were running WHO’S MAILING WHAT! we used to collect, analyze and log into our archive roughly 2,000 mailings a month sent to us from correspondents around the country. We actually handled more than that, but many were duplicates.
At the beginning of the last decade, we began receiving a new breed of direct mail—from package-goods people who not only were offering cents-off coupons but also were planning to track the redemptions back to both the mailing effort and to the individual household.
The object: to build a giant database of nickel-and-dime purchases by households.
When these things first started arriving, we dutifully logged them in, but paid scant attention, assuming it was the work of crackpots who did not know their arithmetic and figured direct mail would be a neat way to build a brand.
It turns out I was partly right. They were not crackpots, but rather were young, MBA, brand manager tigers who did not know their arithmetic and the greedy agencies that aided and abetted them.